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From the Journal, 1853 
Something quite definite I have to say 

... I have something upon my conscience as a writer. Let me indicate 
precisely how I feel about it. There is something quite definite I have to 
say, and I have it so much upon my conscience that (as I feel) I dare not 
die without having uttered it. For the instant I die and so leave this world 
(so I understand it) I shall in the very same second (so frightfully fast it 
goes!), in the very same second I shall be infinitely far away, in a different 
place, where, still within the same second (frightful speed!), the question 
will be put to me: "Hast thou uttered the definite message quite definitely?" 
And if I have not done so, what then? . . . 

There is something quite definite I have to say. But verily I am not 
eager to say it. On the contrary, I would so infinitely prefer that another 
should say it — which, however, would not help me, since (as I under- 
stand it) it was and remains my task. But eager to say it I am not; on 
the contrary, I have wished and craved, and sometimes almost hoped that 
I might be dispensed from saying it. For it is not a cheerful message, this 
definite thing, and I cannot but think that there are several persons dear 
to me to whom it would be unwelcome to hear it said. Above all there is 
among us a right reverend old man, a consideration which has constantly 
held me back, laid restraint upon my tongue and upon my pen, a con- 
sideration for the highest dignitary of the Church, a man to whom by the 
memory of a deceased father I felt myself drawn with an almost melan- 
choly affection — and I must think that to him especially it will be very 
unwelcome that this is said. 

X 6 B 371 



Upon "Christendom" 

l8 54" l8 55 







Copyright 1944, by Princeton University Press 

Printed in the United States of America by 

Princeton University Press at Princeton, New Jersey 

London: Geoffrey Cumberlege 
Oxford University Press 


Strange that it has been left to me to translate this Attach upon 
"Christendom," to me who as a "priest" am here attacked with the 
utmost scorn! Strange (and perhaps significant), as I have remarked 
in the Introduction, that no one else has shown any zeal to make this 
trenchant attack known to the English-speaking world! I was not eager 
to do it. I neither commend nor decry this attack. But perhaps it is well 
that, since it was written from within the Church, it should now be 
translated by a priest. In Germany it was translated a long while ago 
by two ex-pastors, and everywhere it has been hailed in an anticlerical, 
if not in an anti-Christian interest. 

As this is Kierkegaard's last work, and almost the last to be translated 
into English, it is appropriate here to cast a glance backward upon the 
haphazard production of the past eight years. Many think it astonishing 
that the whole Kierkegaardian literature (twenty-four volumes in 
English) has been translated and published in so short a time as eight 
years. But there have been ten translators collaborating to this end — 
and S. K. alone produced all this literature in fourteen years! I can 
appreciate how great a labor that was, for I have translated half of it. 
It makes no difference now that these books were published in English 
without much regard either to the original order or to the order of 
importance, for I have good reason to believe that what S. K. called 
"my literature" will be available in English by the end of this year. This 
present work lies outside the limits of that literature, as does also The 
Concept of Irony at the other end, and that too is being translated. Mr. 
Dru's Selections from the Journals belongs to still another category. 
That book is invaluable to anyone who would understand the life of 
S. K. or the development of his thought. But there is more light yet 
to shine from the twenty big volumes of the Journals, and perhaps more 
than one scholar will feel prompted to develop this rich mine further. 
Not now, however, in a biographical interest (for Dru has adequately 
provided for that), but rather in a topical way. It is now very difficult 
to get a comprehensive view of S. K.'s reflections upon the subjects 
which chiefly concerned him, for there is as yet no index to the Journals 
as a whole. It is therefore all the more important that collections should 
be made of his more important utterances. I am delighted to hear from 
Mr. Dru that he has undertaken this agreeable and important task. 


In itself this is a big book, and therefore I would not make it bigger 
by including the replies which were made to this attack. It is significant 
that there were few rejoinders made in print, and almost all are included 
in the German edition of Dorner and Schrempf — which can therefore 
be read by those who know no Danish. 

I have included, however, fifteen passages from the Journals which 
illustrate the spirit in which S. K. carried on his attack. It happens that 
this book contains a prodigious number of title pages (perhaps more 
than any other book in the world), and that implies as many blank 
pages. This thought was distressing — until it occurred to me to use 
them (as S. K. often did) for these passages which the reader ought 
to know, and which otherwise I should have felt obliged to quote in 
the Introduction. 

I take occasion to remark that, although as a translator of S. K. I 
have been scrupulous to conform to his style so far as I could, never 
yielding to the temptation of bettering it, and seldom resorting to the 
easy path of paraphrase, yet I have not felt bound to follow slavishly 
his punctuation, which in fact was in his own time regarded as peculiar 
and was not always consistent. Here I remark particularly upon his 
use of the dash, which he employed more frequently than any other 
author I can think of — for the most part appropriately, but sometimes 
where I have preferred to use a parenthesis, and more often where I 
have taken the liberty of introducing three closely printed dots (...), 
which are commonly seen in French, Italian and Spanish books, to 
indicate an unexpected conclusion. I was encouraged to use it by Henry 
James, who first made his discovery of it on a visit to Rome and ex- 
pressed to me his regret that he had not discovered it early enough to 
make use of it in his books. If I had not used it till now, or if it had 
never before been used in the world, I should have felt compelled to 
invent something of the sort when I was translating the Instant. But 
indeed this device is so often appropriate that Northern Europe and 
North America might well borrow from Southern Europe and South 
America a custom which is so common that no patent protects it. 

I owe it perhaps to Kierkegaard to admit that my use of the diagonal 
stroke / to indicate a marked disjunction (as in writing "either/or") 
was not his use. In this case he used a dash or a hyphen, just as he did 
for such conjunctive phrases as both-and; but I feel sure he would have 
liked to make this distinction, if it had been suggested to him. This is 
not my invention, for it is used significantly by the Jena publisher 
Diederichs, who happens to be the publisher of S. K.'s Complete Worths 


in German; and it can appeal to a more remote tradition, namely, to the 
fact that it was used, though not significantly, in many of the earliest 
printed place of every other mark of punctuation. 

As usual, by the kind permission of Dr. Lange, the last surviving 
editor (who perhaps no longer survives), I have made use of the notes 
to the last Danish edition of the Complete Worlds. Not all of them will 
interest every reader, but they must be held in respect as the cumulative 
labor of many zealous students. I conceive, however, that I have done 
a service to the English reader by omitting more than half of them, and 
the notes which I have added are perhaps more important for the 
understanding of Kierkegaard. 


April 26, 1943 


Preface by the Translator v 

Introduction by the Translator xi 

Articles in the Fatherland, I-XX 3 

This Has To Be Said — So Be It Now Said 57 

Last article in the Fatherland, XXI 67 

The Instant, Nos. I and II 77 
What Christ's Judgment Is about Official Christianity 115 

The Instant, Nos. III-VII 125 

The U nchangeableness of God (by title) 233 

The Instant, Nos. VIII-X 237 

Notes 295 

Index 301 

From the Journal 


Imagine a big, well-trained hunting dog. He accompanies his master 
on a visit to a family where, as all too often in our time, there is a whole 
assembly of ill-behaved youths. Their eyes hardly light upon the hound 
before they begin to maltreat it in every kind of way. The hound, which 
was well trained, as these youths were not, fixes his eye at once upon his 
master to ascertain from his expression what he expects him to do. And 
he understands the glance to mean that he is to put up with all the 
ill-treatment, accept it indeed as though it were sheer kindness conferred 
upon him. Thereupon the youths of course became still more rough, and 
finally they agreed that it must be a prodigiously stupid dog which puts 
up with everything. 

The dog meanwhile is concerned only about one thing, what the 
master's glance commands him to do. And, lo, that glance is suddenly 
altered; it signifies — and the hound understands it at once — use your 
strength. That instant with a single leap he has seize.d the biggest lout 
and thrown him to the ground — and now no one stops him, except the 
master's glance, and the same instant he is as he was a moment before. — 
Just so with me. 

XI 2 A 423 


I remark in the Preface that this last work of Kierkegaard aptly 
comes last, or almost last, in the English edition. I dwell here rather 
upon the significance of the fact that it was not published first in Eng- 
lish, as it was in German, and, so far as I know, in every other language 
into which Kierkegaard has been translated. The Instant was published 
at Hamburg in 1861, and the whole of the Agitatorische Schrijten u. 
Aufsatze, translated admirably by Dorner and Schrempf, was published 
in Stuttgart in 1896. (I say "admirably" to make amends for the re- 
proaches I have leveled against Schrempf's later translations — but it 
may be significant that Dorner's name appears first on the tide page.) 
It was obviously an anticlerical if not an anti-Christian interest which 
prompted the early publication of these works. And of course they were 
misapprehended in lands where S. K.'s works were unknown and little 
or nothing was known about the man. Very few were aware that this 
fierce attack upon "Christendom" was written from within the Church. 
I dwell here upon the fact that nothing of the sort has occurred in 
England or America, where S. K.'s last work is properly published al- 
most last — and that not as a result of wise planning, but simply because 
no one has felt an urge to make it the discomfiture of the 

This observation, however, is not perhaps unequivocally cheerful; 
for may it not be that in our time, still more than in the days of Kierke- 
gaard, "there is nothing to persecute"? The world does not persecute 
world when it discovers it in the Church. And even if it be not true, 
as S. K. affirms, that Christianity no longer exists, yet surely the fond 
belief in "Christendom" has been shattered by this present war. Apart 
from the war, and viewing my country as it was in the period preceding 
it, I did not need the satire of Kierkegaard to suggest to my mind the 
doubt whether it can rightly be called a "Christian land." I note that 
in our last census 48 per cent of the population preferred to say that 
they were Christians; but it is sure that many, nobody knows how many, 
made this answer only because they could think of no other religion to 
name; and the leaders of all the Christian groups reckon that, alas, 
hardly half that number have any connection whatever with any 
Church. It is well understood, too, that in intellectual circles the per- 
centage of professing Christians is far smaller. It is a curious coincidence 
that in "atheistic" Russia exactly 48 per cent reported themselves in the 
last census as "believers." But we must understand that this figure is a 


minimum, seeing that in Russia it is inconvenient if not perilous to call 
oneself a Christian. Having just now returned from Mexico I am 
impressed by the fact that in this state which is politically non-Christian 
98 per cent would profess themselves Christians. I do not need Kierke- 
gaard to tell me that it is a muddled world in which we live. Gertainly 
the notion of "Christendom," "a Christian world," "Christian lands," 
under "Christian rulers," is now far more problematical than it was a 
century ago when S. K. wrote. For me, unlike many of my more distin- 
guished contemporaries, it was not only within the last ten years my 
world has been profoundly shaken and has proved to be simply "the 

There is, however, some consolation in the fact that both in England 
and America S. K.'s devotional discourses have lately received a degree 
of attention they have been accorded nowhere else. S. K. complained 
that while he held out the Edifying Discourses with his right hand and 
the pseudonymous works in his left, everyone grasped with his right hand 
what he held in the left. The Discourses have not been translated in 
France, where a good beginning has been made with the pseudonymous 
works. They were translated very tardily in Germany, in spite of the 
vogue which Kierkegaard enjoyed, and it is likely that they would not 
all be available even now, were it not that the enterprising publisher of 
the Complete Worlds felt obliged to make his edition complete. Their 
fate in English has been very different; for whereas only five translators 
and two publishers have had a hand in the publication of the aesthetic 
and philosophical works, eight persons have worked on the Discourses, 
and five publishers have undertaken to disseminate them. 

In the Scandinavian countries the Instant made, of course, a pro- 
digious impression, although it effected no immediate change in the 
established order. S. K., instead of being persecuted as he expected, 
attained again a high degree of popularity. This little brochure was 
printed in the Swedish newspapers as soon as each copy was issued. It 
did not need to be translated for Norway. But in both these lands it 
was of course misunderstood, for no one had apprehended the implica- 
tions of S. K.'s previous works. It was misunderstood by the zealous 
young Norwegian priest who furnished the theme for Ibsen's Brand. 
S. K.'s motto was "Either/or"; it never was "All or nothing." Neither 
was it understood by many people in Denmark, for of course the Jour- 
nals were not yet made public; and this attack upon the established 
order, made by a man who had always been known as a conservative 
in Church and State, and as a devoted supporter of the late Bishop 


Mynster, produced the utmost amazement. Inasmuch as S. K. died in 
the midst of the strife, of an ailment which was very vaguely diagnosed, 
people were disposed to believe that the whole thing was morbid, that 
disease accounted for this sudden change. Now when we know his works 
and can read his Journals such a notion cannot honestly be maintained, 
the Attack cannot be discounted in this way, unless one would claim 
that his works as a whole can be discarded because (as he was the first 
to assert) there was something morbid about his life as a whole. At all 
events, it is clear to us now that the Attack was the consistent conclusion 
of his life and thought. 

There is nothing in the Attack which cannot be matched by many 
entries in the Journals which were written after 1850. It has often been 
said that S. K. during these last years accumulated in his Journals the 
material for the open attack. This is true in a sense. He stored up ten 
times as much material as he needed to use — but, strangely enough, he 
did not use it, except in the very few cases which are indicated here in 
the notes. This is the more surprising to us because many of the entries 
in the Journal were written so perfectly that they compare favorably 
with anything that appeared in the Instant. A considerable number can 
be read in Dru's Selections) I have quoted fifteen of them here on the 
backs of the title pages, and several more are to be found in my Kierke- 
gaard (which from p. 495 to the end may serve as an introduction to 
the Attach) '• I ca ^ attention especially to "Endeavour, or a North Pole 
Expedition," "Star-gazing," "The Tame Geese," "The Professor," which 
has Martensen in view, and the twin parables, "The Captain of the 
Ship" and "The Fieldmarshal," which illuminate S. K.'s relation to 
Bishop Mynster. But S. K. had something else in reserve, nothing less 
than a complete book, fudge for Yourself, which he wrote in 1852 — 
and had kept in his desk all this while. We can understand why he did 
not publish it at once, for it was an undisguised attack upon the estab- 
lished order. But why not when the open attack had commenced ? Why 
not when the second edition of Training in Christianity was published ? 
The only answer is that when he was "working in the instant" the 
weapons must be short as well as sharp. It is true, the appropriate pas- 
sages we find in the Journals were short; but S. K. was so amazingly 
copious that he did not need to use the treasures he had accumulated. 

The last number of the Instant remained unpublished because when 
it lay upon his desk completely finished he fell paralyzed in the street 
and was carried to the hospital. That may be regarded as a sufficient 
reason. And yet we may wonder that during the forty days he was 


dying he did not give order that it be sent to the printer. The whole 
character of the Instant, No. X, marks it as an appropriate conclusion 
of the Attac\. But S. K. seemed to have no interest in it. Undoubtedly 
he thought that his death was the only appropriate conclusion. In my 
Short Life of Kierkegaard I picked out, rather arbitrarily, what I was 
pleased to consider S. K.'s "last words." Yet the last words he actually 
wrote have perhaps a better claim to be thus signalized. Especially his 
pathetic confession of a lifelong suffering, and his address to the "plain 
man," deserve to be treasured as the last words of an intellectual tragic 

S. K.'s Attach upon "Christendom" will be interesting to many who 
have no interest in Christianity — not even enough to wish to attack 
it. Historically it is noteworthy as one of the most prominent examples 
of popular diatribe, not less worthy of attention than any of the most 
famous political broadsides. 

S. K. was well armed for such an undertaking, for during his years 
in the university he spent a great deal of time preparing to write a 
treatise on the use of satire by the Greeks and Romans. That book was 
not written, but there can be no doubt that S. K. learned much from 
his study of the subject. It is certain, however, that this "thoroughly 
polemicalized" young man had a natural bent for satire. He knew also 
that satire necessarily involves exaggeration. For this reason he held 
completely in check his rare dialectical ability to see both sides. In the 
Instant this very dialectical man was no longer dialectical. That his 
satire of the "priests" was vigorously one-sided, he recognized in his 
conversation with Pastor Boisen, which I have quoted on a title page of 
the first number of the Instant, along with a passage about the "cor- 
rective" which justifies such exaggeration. 

Some men, and perhaps most Christians, will think that satire ought 
not to be employed against the Church. That is not my opinion. I be- 
lieve that the Church has need of it, and I conceive that God is above 
the Church as well as in it. Moreover, S. K.'s criticism was not directed 
against the Church as such, but against "Christendom," the established 
order of things in a presumably "Christian land" and "a Christian 

His diatribes, particularly those against the priests in an established 
Church, are often outrageous. In some respects they are not strictly 
applicable to our day, and least of all to the free Churches in America. 
And yet it is discomfiting to recognize how often they do apply, and 
how often they apply with greater force to our age. The economic situa- 


tion of the ministers of the Gospel is by no means so flourishing now 
as S. K. depicts it. And yet perhaps the question of money looms 
larger and is more distracting from Christianity in the free Churches 
than where the priests are paid by the State and that's the end of it. 
At least this question is now pressed more importunately than ever it 
was before. In my Communion, what is called the "Every Member 
Canvass" has grown to be a cloud which obscures the sun, amounting 
often to a total eclipse of the Gospel. 

Outrageous as S. K.'s criticism often is, I am sure that where it 
wounds most deeply the effect is most salutary. To me it has proved to 
be a wholesome diet, and most wholesome when I might be expected 
to be allergic to such food — for I too am a "priest." 

Apart from the profit one may derive from criticism, that is, from the 
negative factors in the Instant, one surely will not fail to notice how 
much there is that is positive and positively edifying. This may not be 
the first impression, but I could not fail to observe it as I was slowly 
translating these pages. The Attack^ would not be so effective as it is, if 
it were not written from within the Church, if the criticism were not 
prompted and supported by a positive faith. S. K.'s central and most 
ardent beliefs are summarily expressed in the Instant, even where they 
are not definitely expressed they glimmer through the criticism, and 
the thought of the majesty of God illuminates many a page. S. K. 
carried on this controversy with the New Testament in his hand, and 
for that reason the "priests" found it so difficult to reply. Even the sting- 
ing charge that the priests are perjurers could not easily be rebutted. 
One should recognize that this whole attack was essentially directed 
against the beginnings of what we know as Modern Liberal Theology. 
Only after a century, when that has finally collapsed, can S. K.'s satire 
be read with sympathy and comprehension. The priests might have 
said in their defense that they had taken the oath upon the New Testa- 
ment in the sense everybody then attached to it, and that everybody 
was actuated by the laudable motive of making Christianity more ac- 
ceptable to the people. But that was what no one could say openly. 

It is a curious and a rather ironical reflection that many who would 
condemn the Attack^ as a whole will find parts of it very much to their 
liking. Free churchmen will find S. K.'s criticism of an established 
Church more forceful than their spokesmen have produced; the many 
Baptist sects will welcome his criticism of infant baptism (although in 
fact S. K. was not disposed to discard it) ; Quakers will relish the dia- 
tribe against a "hireling ministry"; and Catholics (Roman Catholics 


at least) will sympathize with his outspoken preference for a celibate 
clergy. But I should think that everybody must now be ready to listen 
with a chastened spirit to his passionate contention against the idea of 
"Christendom." And that was his central theme. 

We have reason to take seriously S. K.'s oft reiterated formula: 
"Especially in Protestantism, and more especially in Denmark." S. K. 
was at pains to make it clear that his criticism was directed only to that 
part of "Christendom" which he knew at first hand. It was consonant 
with the practical aim of the Instant that he there suggested no com- 
parison between Protestantism and Catholicism. But in the later Jour- 
nals this comparison was more common than any other theme except 
"Christendom." If "Christendom," as I reckon roughly, is the theme of 
one thousand entries in the Journals of the last five years, there are nearly 
one hundred which deal critically with Luther and Protestantism, and 
express appreciation (comparatively at least) of Catholicism and monas- 
ticism. S. K.'s contemporaries, though of course this source of informa- 
tion was closed to them, were disposed to conjecture that, if S. K. had 
lived longer, he must have felt compelled to take refuge in the Church 
of Rome, as some of the readers of the Instant did. That was only a 
guess, but it was at least more plausible that the guess of Georg Brandes, 
that he would have "leapt over" to free thought. Perhaps, if S. K. had 
lived to become a Catholic, he might have written another satire, 
dealing especially with Catholicism, and more especially with Rome. 
For all that, he may have been essentially a Catholic in his way of think- 
ing. That is what Father Przywara makes out in Das Geheimnis 
Kier\egaards, by which he was able to convince Karl Barth that, as he 
put it, "If I were to follow Kierkegaard, I might as well go over there," 
pointing, as he wrote these words near his window in the Hotel Hassler 
on the Pincian Hill, to the Vatican on the other side of the Eternal City. 

It is very much more important to remark that the severity of S. K.'s 
attitude is in part explained, and in some measure mitigated, by the 
consideration that the Moral and the thrice repeated Preface to Train- 
ing in Christianity (which he retracted, it is true, but did not discard 
when he published the second edition) suggest plainly enough, though 
perhaps unwittingly, the Catholic distinction between the universal 
precepts of Christ and the "counsels of perfection." This distinction the 
Protestant Reformers expressly and indignantly rejected. And with this 
rejection went implicitly the Catholic veneration for the heroes of the 
faith, the "saints," or, as S. K. here calls them, "those glorious ones." 
To this whole range of ideas Protestantism is still hostile. Everybody 


resents this as an invidious distinction. The consequence is that, in- 
stead of leveling men up, Protestantism has leveled them down, or, as 
S. K. says, "place No. i has dropped out, and No. 2 has become the 
first place"; in other words, "Protestantism has become nothing but 
mediocrity from end to end." Hence his plea that "the ideals must be 
proclaimed," and the comfort he held out to all, if only they really try, 
that, failing through human weakness to live up to the ideals, they 
may flee to grace. Naturally, grace is not made very prominent in the 
Instant', but it was very prominent in the Journals, and on his death- 
bed, responding to Pastor Boisen's question, "Do you rely upon grace?" 
S. K. responded, "Naturally. What else?" Only he would not at any 
time have allowed that "grace" was an adequate answer to the anxious 
query, "whether a man can be a Christian without being a disciple." 

There is another respect in which S. K. was more evidently and 
more fundamentally a Catholic — or perhaps it would be better to say, 
more consciously in revolt against Protestantism. This appears plainly 
in the Instant by his insistence upon worlds, and by the fact that here 
he has nothing to say about faith, except that, according to the New 
Testament (and the Gospels especially), it must not be "faith alone." 
He was thoroughly aware that when he insisted upon the imitation of 
Christ he was stressing a medieval aspect of Catholicism. But his dissent 
from the Protestant position, especially from the sola fide, went far 
deeper than that. It is shown by his marked preference for the Epistle 
of St. James, which Luther dismissed as "an epistle of straw." It is 
shown more generally by his definition of faith as obedience, as the 
opposite of sin rather than of unbelief. It is significant that he chose 
to entitle his biggest volume of edifying discourses "The Works of 
Love." It is so obvious that love cannot be "with the tongue"! But S.K. 
was himself so keenly aware that he was controvening a fundamental 
position of Lutheranism {sola fide) that he was fearful of the offense 
the publication of this book would give — and greatly surprised that 
no one raised an outcry. We on the other hand are surprised that he 
could have entertained such a fear; for now hardly anyone remembers 
that sola fide is a distinction of Protestantism, notwithstanding that it 
has left evident traces upon our thought and life, and perhaps more 
than anything else will make S. K.'s satire of "Christendom" unaccept- 
able in our day, if not unintelligible. 

I remark in the last place that in this book I have uniformly trans- 
lated the Danish word Freest by the cognate English word. This might 
seem a matter of course. I have to remark upon it because in all my 


previous translations I have commonly translated it by "parson" in- 
stead of "priest." Others prefer to say "clergyman" or "minister." But 
that obviously will not do in this book; and here I am not ashamed 
of being inconsistent. I am not sorry that I have to use the word 
"priest," for neither would I shun its application to me, nor do I wish 
to spare other priests of the Anglican Communion (or it may be in 
the Church of Rome) who might profitably be wounded by it. At the 
same time it does of course apply to the Protestant ministers of any 
denomination. The fact is, Luther retained the use of the word "priest" 
(which is merely old presbyter writ small), and the Scandinavian 
Churches, like the Church of England, have retained it to this day, 
though of course without any more suggestion of sacerdotal character 
than the kindred word prete has in Rome and throughout Italy. 


From the Journal 


Luther says somewhere in one of his sermons that properly sermons 
should not be preached in churches. This he said in a sermon, which surely 
was delivered in a church, so that he did not say it seriously. But it is true 
that sermons should not be preached in churches. It harms Christianity in 
a high degree and alters its very nature, that it is brought into an artistic 
remoteness from reality, instead of being heard in the midst of real life, 
and that precisely for the sake of the conflict (the collision). For all this 
talk about quiet, about quiet places and quiet hours, as the right element 
for Christianity, is absurd. 

So then sermons should not be preached in churches but in the street, 
in the midst of life, of the reality of daily life, weekday life. Nevertheless, 
even if it is not too early for us to do it and might perhaps require 
preparation, in any case I cannot do it, for the simple reason that I lack 
physical strength. To me it is allotted to speak with the individual, to 
converse, and then to use the pen. 

Nevertheless I desired to attain an approximation to preaching in the 
street, or to bring Christianity, the thought of Christianity, into the midst 
of life's reality and into conflict with its various interests. And to that end 
I resolved to use this journal [the Fatherland]. It is a political journal, it 
has entirely different interests, it is concerned moreover with very many 
different interests, but Christianity is not its affair. 

EP ('54-'55)» P- 469 






I. Was Bishop Mynster a "witness to the truth"? 

II. There the matter rests! 

III. A challenge to me. 

IV. The point at issue with Bishop Martensen. 
V. Two new witnesses to the truth. 

VI. With regard to Bishop Mynster's death. 

VII. Is this Christian worship? 

VIII. What must be done. 

IX. The religious situation. 

X. A thesis — only a single one. 

XI. "Salt." 

XII. What do I want? 

XIII. With reference to an anonymous proposal to me. 

XIV. Would it be best to "stop ringing the fire alarm"? 
XV. Christianity with a government commission. 

XVI. What a cruel punishment! 
XVII. A result. 
XVIII. A monologue. 
XIX. About a silly assumption of importance. 
XX. With regard to the new edition of Training in 
This has to be said — so be it now said. 
XXI. Bishop Martensen's silence. 

I. The Fatherland, Monday, December 18, 1854 

Was Bishop Mynster a "witness to the truth," one of 
"the genuine witnesses to the truth" — is this the 


February 1854. S. Kierkegaard. 

In the address which Professor Martensen "delivered on the Fifth 
Sunday after Epiphany, the Sunday preceding the burial of Bishop 
Mynster," 1 a speech of remembrance it might be called for the reason 
that it brought to Professor Martensen s remembrance the vacant epis- 
copal see — in this address Bishop Mynster is represented as one of the 
genuine witnesses to the truth, 2 this being affirmed in the strongest and 
most decisive terms it would be possible to use. With the figure of the 
deceased bishop, his life and the manner of it and the issue of it, before 
our eyes, we are exhorted "to imitate the faith of the true guide, the 
genuine witness to the truth" (p. 5), to imitate his faith, for that, as was 
said expressly of Bishop Mynster, was shown, "not merely by word 
and profession, but in deed and in truth" (p. 9). The deceased bishop is 
by Professor Martensen introduced (p. 6) "into the holy chain of wit- 
nesses to the truth which stretches through the ages from the days of 
the Apostles," etc. 

Against this I must protest — and now that Bishop Mynster is dead, 
I can speak willingly, but in this place very briefly, and not at all about 
what determined me to assume the relationship to him which I assumed. 

If the word "preaching" suggests more particularly what is said, 
written, printed, the word, the sermon, then the fact that in this respect 
(to allude to only one thing) Bishop Mynster's preaching soft-pedals, 
slurs over, suppresses, omits something decisively Christian, something 
which appears to us men inopportune, which would make our life 
strenuous, hinder us from enjoying life, that part of Christianity which 
has to do with dying from the world, by voluntary renunciation, by 
hating oneself, by suffering for the doctrine, etc. — to see this one does 
not have to be particularly sharp-sighted, if one puts the New Testa- 
ment alongside of Mynster's sermons. 

If on the other hand the word "preaching," proclaiming the Gospel, 
leads one to think more particularly how far the preacher's life expresses 
what he says (and note that Christianly this is the decisive thing, where- 
by Christianity has wished to secure itself against getting docents with- 


out definite character, instead of witnesses), the fact that Bishop Myn- 
ster's preaching of Christianity was not in character, that outside the 
quiet hours he was not in character, not even in the role of his own 
sermons, which nevertheless, as has been said, have in comparison with 
the New Testament mitigated the Christian conceptions considerably — 
one does not need to be particularly sharp-sighted to see this, in case 
one who hears and reads him is duly acquainted with his sermons. In 
1848 and thereafter this was visible even to blind admirers, if they were 
sufficiently acquainted with his sermons to know what they and the 
quiet hours would prompt one to expect. 

So when alongside of it one lays the New Testament, Bishop Myn- 
ster's proclamation of Christianity was a very questionable sott of 
preaching, especially on the part of one who was a witness to the truth. 
But then to my mind the genuine thing about him was that, as I am 
firmly convinced, he was willing to admit before God and to himself 
that by no manner of means was he a witness to the truth — to my mind 
this admission was the genuine thing about him. 

But if from the pulpit Bishop Mynster is to be depicted and canonized 
as a witness to the truth, one of the genuine witnesses to the truth, 
then a protest must be made. I see that the Berlin News [a Copenhagen 
paper], which is the official newspaper, just as Professor Martensen is 
the official preacher, expresses the opinion that Professor Martensen 
(who with notable haste forestalls the interment and the monument too 
[which was to be erected to the deceased bishop]) has by this address 
erected a beautiful and worthy monument to the deceased — I would 
prefer to say a worthy monument to Professor Martensen himself. But 
in any case, the monument cannot be ignored, therefore a protest must 
be made, which perhaps might contribute to make the monument (to 
Professor Martensen) more enduring. 

Bishop Mynster a witness to the truth! You who read this must surely 
know what is to be understood by a witness to the truth*; but let me 

* But perhaps this has been cast into oblivion by Bishop Mynster's preaching in the 
course of so many years. For this too is one of the defects, and one of the principal 
defects of his preaching — not the fact that he himself was a government official (from 
the Christian point of view that is a detraction from his preaching), not the consideration 
of his own glittering career, rich in enjoyment, no, not this, but the fact that he would 
authorize that way of proclaiming the Gospel as the true Christian way, and thereby 
implicitly condemn as an exaggeration the true Christian preaching (by a suffering 
witness to the truth), instead of making to Christianity the admission that the preaching 
he represented is something which may be conceded to us men as a dispensation and 
indulgence, something which we ordinary men have recourse to because we are too 
selfish, too worldly, too sensual, to be capable of anything more, something which we 


remind you that for this it is absolutely necessary for one to suffer for 
the doctrine, and when it is said emphatically, one of the "genuine" 
witnesses to the truth, the word must be understood in the strictest 
sense. Let me then try to indicate by a few strokes what is to be under- 
stood by it, in order to make it vivid to you. 

A witness to the truth is a man whose life from first to last is unac- 
quainted with everything which is called enjoyment — and, ah, whether 
to you has been granted little or much, you know how pleasant is that 
which is called enjoyment! But his life from first to last was unac- 
quainted with what is called enjoyment; on the other hand, from first 
to last it was initiated into what is called suffering — and, alas, even you 
who have been exempted from the protracted, the more agonizing suf- 
ferings, you know nevertheless from your own experience how one 
winces at what is called suffering! But to that his life was initiated from 
first to last, by experiences which are even more rarely talked about 
among men, because they are more rarely encountered in the world, 
by inward conflicts, by fear and trembling, by trepidation, by anguish 
of soul, by agony of spirit, being tried besides that by all the sufferings 
which are more commonly talked of in the world. A witness to the 
truth is a man who in poverty witnesses to the truth — in poverty, in 
lowliness, in abasement, and so is unappreciated, hated, abhorred, and 
then derided, insulted, mocked — his daily bread perhaps he did not al- 
ways have, so poor was he, but the daily bread of persecution he was 
richly provided with every day. For him there was never promotion, 
except in an inverse sense, downward, step by step. A witness to the 
truth, one of the genuine witnesses to the truth, is a man who is 
scourged, maltreated, dragged from one prison to the other, and then 
at last — the last promotion, whereby he is admitted into the first class 
as defined by the Christian protocol, among the genuine witnesses to 
the truth — then at last — for this is indeed one of those genuine witnesses 
to the truth of whom Professor Martensen speaks — then at last crucified, 
or beheaded, or burnt, or roasted on a gridiron, his lifeless body thrown 
by the executioner in an out-of-the-way place (thus a witness to the 
truth is buried), or burnt to ashes and cast to the four winds, so that 
every trace of the "filth" (which the Apostle says he was) might be 

This is a witness to the truth, his life and career, his death and burial — 

ordinary men have recourse to, and which so understood, in spite of all false reformers, 
is by no means to be conceitedly and presumptuously repudiated, but is on the contrary 
to be respected. 


and Bishop Mynster, says Professor Martensen, was one of the genuine 
witnesses to the truth. 

Is this truth ? To speak thus, is this perhaps also a way of witnessing 
to the truth? and by that address did Professor Martensen himself 
appear in the character of a witness to the truth, one of the genuine 
witnesses to the truth? Verily there is that which is more contrary to 
Christianity, and to the very nature of Christianity, than any heresy, 
any schism, more contrary than all heresies and all schisms combined, 
and that is, to play Christianity. But precisely in the very same sense 
that the child plays soldier, it is playing Christianity to take away the 
danger (Christianly, "witness" and "danger" correspond), and in place 
of this to introduce power (to be a danger for others), worldly goods, 
advantages, luxurious enjoyment of the most exquisite refinements — 
and then to play the game that Bishop Mynster was a witness to the 
truth, one of the genuine witnesses to the truth, to play it with such 
frightful earnestness that one cannot bring the game to a stop, but keeps 
on playing it into heaven itself, plays Bishop Mynster on into the holy 
chain of witnesses to the truth which stretches from the days of the 
Apostles to our times. 


This article, as one can see from the date, has lain [unpublished] for 
a considerable time. 

So long as there was question of appointment to the episcopal see of 
Seeland, 3 I thought that I ought to say nothing publically concerning 
Professor Martensen; for whether he were to become bishop or not, in 
any case he was a candidate for this office, and presumably desired 
that so long as this situation lasted as little as possible should happen 
concerning him. 

With Professor Martensen's nomination as bishop this consideration 
lapsed. But then again the article could not be published and therefore 
was not. My thought was that there was no reason for haste. Moreover, 
the nomination of Bishop Martensen called forth an attack upon him 
from another side and of an entirely different sort : it would have been 
more than superfluous for me to coincide with this attack; so I waited. 
My thought was, as I have said, that there was no reason for haste, and 
that nothing is lost by waiting. Someone may even find that something 
is gained, may find a deeper significance in the fact that the protest 
comes so tardily. 

Autumn of 1854. 


But a protest must be made against this representation of Bishop 
Mynster as a witness to the truth. 

It may be said pretty nearly of Bishop Mynster that he carried a 
whole generation — it is therefore a difficulty bordering closely upon 
the impossible to introduce clarity in our confused religious conduct 
and concepts, so long as a truer illumination is not shed upon the 
truth of Bishop Mynster's preaching of Christianity, which after all 
it is my duty to shed, because Bishop Mynster, precisely Bishop Mynster, 
was, if one would so put it, my life's misfortune — not for the fact that 
he was not a witness to the truth (that circumstance would not be so 
dangerous), but for the fact that in addition to all the other advantages 
which he derived in the most ample measure from preaching Christian- 
ity, he had also the enjoyment of declaiming in quiet hours on Sundays 
and making up for it with worldly shrewdness on Mondays, giving the 
impression of being a man of character, a man of principle, who stands 
firm when everything vacillates, who does not fail when all are failing, 
etc., etc., whereas the truth is that he was worldly shrewd in a high 
degree, but weak, self-indulgent, and only great as a declaimer — and 
was my life's misfortune, if one would put it so (though in a very high 
sense, through the love of divine governance, it turned out to my profit, 
became my good fortune) — my misfortune was that, being brought up 
by a father now deceased, upon Mynster's sermons, and prompted by 
filial piety towards the deceased father, I honored this false draft instead 
of protesting it. 

Now he is dead. God be praised that it could be put off as long as he 
lived. That was attained which toward the end I was about to despair 
of, 4 but nevertheless that was attained which was my thought, my 
wish, which also I can remember to have said once a long while ago to 
the aged Grundtvig: "Bishop Mynster must first live out his days and 
be buried with full music" — that was attained, he was indeed, if I may 
venture to say so, buried with full music. For the monument to him 
there has surely by this time been received pretty much all that will be 

So I cannot keep silent longer, the protest must come, all the more 
serious for its tardiness, the protest against representing from the pulpit, 
that is, before God, Bishop Mynster as a witness to the truth; for that 
is false, and proclaimed in this way it is a falsehood which cries to 

December 1854. 

II. The Fatherland, Thursday, December 30, 1854 

There the matter rests! 

December 28, 1854* S. Kierkegaard. 

To represent from the pulpit Bishop Mynster as a witness to the truth, 
one of the genuine witnesses to the truth, to assign him a place in the 
holy chain, etc. — against this a protest must be raised. There the matter 

To represent him in this fashion is essentially to make him ridiculous. 
For I can easily put the thing in another way, attacking from another 
side. To represent a man who by preaching Christianity has attained 

* This article, as one will see, is of December 28, delivered to the Fatherland when 
I saw that same evening, to my surprise, in the Berlin News, No. 302, 5 that after all 
Bishop Martensen has not, as I was prepared to expect, the same idiosyncrasy in relation 
to short articles of mine as at one time he avowed he had in relation to "the prolix 
Kierkegaardian literature," 6 an idiosyncrasy which prevented him from making himself 
acquainted with it. This is what I saw, but what I neither saw nor see is what his article 
can accomplish, an article which properly does not require an explicit reply, since it does 
not alter the case in the least. Bishop Martensen maintains that I have identified the 
witness to the truth with the blood-witness, and that only thereby am I justified in deny- 
ing that Bishop Mynster was a witness to the truth. That is not so. Neither in the article, 
where only at the last I point to the blood-witness (but surely the blood-witness too 
belongs to the witnesses to the truth, especially to the "genuine" witnesses to the truth, 
or what I have called "the first class according to the Christian protocol," which implies 
that I must have in mind many more witnesses to the truth than merely the blood- 
witnesses); so then, neither in the article nor in the notes appended to it — one can refer 
to them both — have I made the witness to the truth and the blood-witness identical, and 
in the notes I have quite distinctly pointed out the difference between preaching Chris- 
tianity in such a way that the preacher is "a government official, a man of rank, and his 
preaching his own glittering career, rich in enjoyment," and on the other hand a "suffer- 
ing witness to the truth," without maintaining in any way whatsoever that suffering must 
signify suffering unto death. And this difference is quite sufficient to prove that Bishop 
Mynster cannot be called a witness to the truth, one of the genuine witnesses to the truth, 
a link in the holy chain, etc. — On the other hand, as for the various matters about which 
Dr. Martensen speaks in defense of public morals, speaking presumably in his capacity as 
the duly elected Bishop of Seeland, but speaking also in the tone of a brawler and pu- 
gilist, bewailing the scandal occasioned by the step I have taken, talking about Jesuitism 
and the like, I may say that this makes absolutely no impression upon me. Partly (and this 
is the decisive point) because it rests upon a misunderstanding, and pardy because Dr. 
Martensen is too subaltern a person to overawe me, especially since he has begun to wear 
velvet. Certainly a domestic cannot overawe anybody by his livery, but in the clothes of 
his master, the noble lord, he is still less awe-inspiring. Besides I am so accustomed to 
stand a blow, and to stand it until several years later the majority have come over to 
my opinion (only they forget that I had to stand the blow); so I may as well stand this 
blow, too — for the sake of elucidating the Christian concepts. And the judgment expressed 
about Bishop Mynster, one of the genuine witnesses to the truth, a link in the holy 
chain, must be protested. There the matter rests! 


and enjoyed in the greatest measure all possible worldly goods and en- 
joyments, to represent him as a witness to the truth is as ridiculous as 
to talk about a maiden who is surrounded by her numerous troop of 
children. But the fact is, as Luther would say, "Everything that has to 
do with lechery people in this sinful world know all about, you are 
promptly understood if you talk about it; but about the Christian con- 
cepts they are not so well informed." Hence it is that people do not 
understand, and therefore censor it, when a protest is raised against a 
witness to the truth who from a Christian point of view is just as ridic- 
ulous as that maiden. 

There are lots of things which one can be "at the same time," and it 
is true particularly of all insignificant things that one can be a number 
of them "at the same time." One can be both this and that, and at the 
same time a dilettante violinist, member of a lodge, Schiitzen^onig, 
etc. The significant thing has precisely this characteristic, that just in 
proportion as it is significant it is less possible for a man to be that 
and at the same time something else. And the definition "witness to the 
truth" is a very domineering definition; strictly speaking, it can be com- 
bined only with being, apart from that, nothing at all. The term "wit- 
ness to the truth" stands in relation to the fact that Christianity is 
heterogeneous to the world, wherefore the "witness" must always be 
recognizable by heterogeneity to this world, by renunciation, by suffer- 
ing, and this is the reason why such a mode of being is so little capable 
of being something else at the same time. But to want to have all 
worldly goods and advantages (the witness to the truth being what he 
is precisely by renunciation and suffering), and then at the same time 
to be a witness to the truth — one might Christianly say, "The deuce of 
a witness that is! Such a witness to the truth is not merely a monster 
but an impossibility, like a bird which is at the same time a fish, or like 
an iron tool which has the remarkable peculiarity of being made of 

Such is the situation. But remember it was not I who began the thing 
of measuring Bishop Mynster's life by the scale of a witness to the truth. 
No, it is a friend, Professor Martensen, who has done the deceased 
this scurvy service and furnished the occasion for me to say that, viewed 
under the illumination provided by Professor Martensen, Bishop Myn- 
ster was "in a high degree a worldly shrewd man, but weak, self-in- 
dulgent, and great only as a declaimer" — this scurvy service which yet 
cannot perhaps be called entirely disinterested, for the possible successor 
to the see of Seeland, who at present is the successor, was indeed well 


served by the suggestion of such an easy way of being himself promoted 
up to the rank of a witness to the truth. 

If there actually is in this land so little sense of what Christianity is 
that a man might be unable to understand with what justification I 
must protest against this forgery in the strongest terms, and by drawing 
the most glaring contrasts, I can put the protest in another form. I 
maintain that by depicting from the pulpit Bishop Mynster as a witness 
to the truth, one of the holy chain of witnesses, a wrong is done in the 
highest degree to every other distinguished and well-deserving man in 
the land. A jurist like Privy Counselor 0rsted, a poet like Heiberg, a 
scholar like Madvig, a physician like Bang, theatrical artists like Niel- 
sen, Rosenkilde, Physter, and so on in so many professions — all such 
men, although it cannot by any means be said that in their lifetime 
they are more agreeably situated and get more of the earthly goods and 
enjoyments than Bishop Mynster got, but on the contrary may be said 
to be situated less agreeably, all such men have exactly the same claim 
as Bishop Mynster to be buried as witnesses to the truth. 

But the Protestant clergy still continue to have a curious crotchet in 
their heads. Although they have become in their "existence" entirely 
like men of every other class, who, without exceeding the limits pre- 
scribed by civil law, seek to develop what gifts they may have, and 
thereby strive to attain earthly rewards and pleasures like all the rest, 
nevertheless at the same time they want to be something more, to be 
witnesses to the truth. And this came very clearly to evidence in the 
memorial address made by Professor Martensen. Therefore a protest 
should be made as emphatically as possible, people's blood must be 
stirred, passions set in motion — and that of course can be done only 
when a man is not afraid of the immediate consequence, that many will 
become furious at him, which he ought not to fear but to understand, 
as a surgeon understands that the patient will shriek and kick. A protest 
must be made, and the blow for the provocation given should fall upon 
the head — and when the article came out Professor Martensen had long 
been the head. 

So it ought to be; so it was; there the matter rests! 

. . ."also out of filial piety towards a deceased father I honored the 
false draft (the semblance of being a man of character which Bishop 
Mynster presented) instead of protesting it." There the matter rests. 

If the friends of the deceased, his adherents and admirers, when they 
are a bit more composed, will not understand that at least I have not 


had any advantage from my relationship to Bishop Mynster — I pray 
them to examine the account — that in my relationship to him I have 
shown a resignation which very rarely is shown by a younger man to 
an elder, that I have done and borne what very seldom a younger man 
does and bears in relation to an elder — if they will not understand this, 
and understand also what is implied in it, that they owe me a debt 
of gratitude for the many years I have borne with the deceased — if they 
will not understand this, well, in God's name, it's their affair. 

To the enemies of the deceased I would say, not to exult and rejoice 
as though they had gained something, which, as I see it, they have not 
gained. Their position, as I view it, is entirely unchanged; and, if the 
occasion were to present itself, it would not be impossible that I might 
still come forward in the usual way (precious memories — how gladly 
I did it!) to fight against his enemies in behalf of Bishop Mynster, the 
pastor of my deceased father. 

In Denmark Bishop Mynster was unique in his kind; there is only 
one person who is in the right against him, and that is 1. 1 have not con- 
demned Bishop Mynster; no, but in the hand of divine governance I 
was the occasion for Bishop Mynster to pass judgment upon himself. 
His sermon on Sunday either he did not know on Monday, or he dared 
not or would not acknowledge it as his — for, ironically enough, I 
simple-mindedly was his own sermon on Monday; and if on Mondays 
Bishop Mynster had not with worldly shrewdness shirked the duty of 
assuming the logical consequence of his Sunday sermon, if he had put 
into effect a mode of existence and action which corresponded with 
the tenor of his Sunday address, instead of helping himself out with 
worldly shrewdness of various patterns, his life would then have taken 
on an entirely different aspect. 

But such a judgment only an enemy can be in haste to pronounce as 
long as the man lives. He who is devoted to him says, "The judgment 
must be postponed until the very last; he might indeed even at the last 
moment avert the judgment and do an immense amount of good by a 
little word; and everything ought to be done that resignation is able 
to do in order to move him to utter this word." 

So then, there the matter rests : also out of filial piety towards a de- 
ceased father I honored this false draft instead of protesting it. 

"I was his own sermon on Monday," that I was; for by enduring 
year after year this provocation, and enduring it moreover with un- 
altered resignation as I did, I have become something different from 


what I was, or it became clearer and clearer to me what I was, "my life's 
misfortune by the love of divine governance turned out to my profit, 
became my good fortune." My relationship to Bishop Mynster during 
many years was a unity of a deeply laid purpose on my part which I 
pursued with the greatest solicitude, and of my own development by 
the cooperation of divine governance. It will be understood then that I 
cannot take account of what every anonymous writer, every "Aescu- 
lapius" [the signature in the Copenhagen Post] brings out in a news- 
paper, or what a serious-minded man from N0rrebro with all the seri- 
ousness of the Flying Post says to explain to people that I lack serious- 

And as for the cry which is heard, this cry about attacking a dead man 
who cannot answer, etc., it may be said of this that it is a misunder- 
standing, also that it is chiefly a hubbub of women. I have told how 
the case stands: "God be praised that it could be postponed as long as 
the old man lived; at the end I was on the point of despairing of it." 

Yes, God be praised that I was spared from being obliged to embitter 
in the most frightful measure the last years of an old man's life by 
showing that compared with the Christianity of the New Testament 
the Mynsterish preaching and ecclesiastical rule (if it would not make 
the admission, and make it as solemnly as possible, that it was not the 
Christianity of the New Testament) was an illusion of the senses, that 
all his "earnestness and wisdom" was, Christianly considered, lese- 
majeste against Christianity, which scorns in its divine majesty to be 
served (as if it were politics, a kingdom of this world) by worldly 
shrewdness. Moreover, viewing the case from another side, I have 
neglected nothing which might be incumbent upon me as a duty to- 
wards the cause I have the honor to serve. Toward the end of his life 
I pressed upon the old man as closely as I could (but in an indirect way, 
by Training in Christianity) the question whether he would give battle. 
By what he did 7 I was to my sorrow convinced how weak he was. Out 
of consideration for him I concealed this from the contemporaries, 
and said it only to him personally, as emphatically as possible. However, 
since this fact of his weakness was a fact, I had to employ a little pre- 
cautionary measure in view of the extremest eventuality. That was done 
in Self-Examination, in which, as one can see, I dissected him, but did 
it to be sure so hiddenly that not even his enemies have seen it, so hid- 
denly that newspaper articles have quoted this passage to my discredit, 
regarding it as a eulogy of him, whereas just there I had employed my 
precautionary measure in view of the ultimate which might occur, and 


said in effect: "Your Reverence is absolutely not in the character of 
your sermons." But I hid that. And why? Naturally because I always 
wished, if it were possible, to carry out my first thought, which was so 
dear to me: Mynster shall live out his days and be buried with full 
music. Privately I have talked emphatically enough to Bishop Mynster; 
in my writings I have carried out my task, and by my existence, my 
activity as an author, I am a constant attack upon the Mynsterish preach- 
ing of Christianity, yet in such a way that at any instant it was possible 
for Bishop Mynster by making an admission to come to an agreement 
with me, so that I would have been his defense. But I know very well 
how most people read, how thoughtlessly, and that therefore, if I 
wanted to do so (and that I did for several reasons, "also out of filial 
piety towards a deceased father"), by inserting a little compliment to 
him there was the charmant possibility of making most people believe 
that we were in agreement, so that my activity consequently had the 
effect of enhancing his prestige in the eyes of most people, and every 
sort of disturbance, scene, catastrophe, situations which were so dis- 
tasteful to the old man, were happily avoided. About our unity the 
old man knew better, both because he read my works rather carefully, 
and because I talked to him in private, although he certainly never 
doubted my sincere devotion to him, even when it appeared to me most 

So then, God be praised that this was attained which was my first 
thought, my wish which was so dear to me, which toward the end I 
was so near despairing of, that Mynster shall live out his days and be 
buried with full music; the monument will also be erected in his 
honor — but then no further, and least of all must he go down in history 
as a witness to the truth, one of the genuine witnesses to the truth, one 
of the holy chain of witnesses. There the matter rests! 

III. The Fatherland, Friday, January 12, 1855 

A challenge to me by Pastor Paludan-Moller 

January 11. S. Kierkegaard. 

Pastor Peludan-Moller has published a brochure against me which a 
reviewer in the Berlin News has of course extolled as exceedingly fine — 
a situation which recalls the scene in Figaro* where Bartolo and Basil 


thank one another in sign-language for having espoused the cause of 
Signorina Marcellina. Honestly, I find it quite reasonable that, seeing 
that I, even if I would, can-not possibly manage to answer or thank all 
of the many who oppose me — I find it quite reasonable in them that 
they contrive to answer and thank one another reciprocally. 

So then a brochure against me by Pastor P. M., and in it a feature 
to which the Berlin News has promptly given the greatest possible pub- 
licity, namely, a challenge to me which assumes perhaps (who knows?) 
that as usual I will preserve silence. In my article in the Fatherland I 
said of Mynster's preaching that "it soft-pedals, slurs over, suppresses, 
omits, something decisively Christian." That gives occasion for challeng- 
ing me to prove this with the New Testament for reference, so that 
somehow it might be worth noticing. For that is the way Pastor P. M. 
would confute it. 

"So that somehow it might be worth noticing" — what can this mean? 
If I now were to enter into this plan, I might find in the end that I 
was an April fool, because I had not made sure of an authentic inter- 
pretation of the phrase "so that somehow it might be worth noticing." 

This, however, I shall overlook; but the reason why I do not propose 
to enter into this plan is that I am fearful it might be a trap, so that, 
if I went into it, it would come about that the whole question and the 
statement of it would in a short time become quite different from what 
it is. The question is: "Was Bishop Mynster a witness to the truth, one 
of the genuine witnesses to the truth, one link in the holy chain of 
witnesses? Is this the truth?" The question is about an energetic protest 
from my side against representing from the pulpit Bishop Mynster as 
a witness to the truth, one of the genuine witnesses to the truth, one 
link in the holy chain of witnesses. And this would now perhaps be 
consigned to oblivion, the whole thing being transformed into a prolix, 
learned, theological investigation, with citations and citations, etc., about 
Bishop Mynster's preaching, an investigation in which by reason of the 
great number and learning of the participants we would soon find our- 
selves buried up to our ears. No, I thank you!* 

* I beg of everyone who may be willing to follow my advice that, if he is minded to 
make a public utterance, he would observe the strictest diet with respect to not entering 
into general, broad, learned, prolix, academic discussions with lexicon and grammar and 
the immense mass of scholarly apparatus and the multitude of citations, enough to obscure 
even what is as clear as the sun; for thereby he will only be of service to my opponent, 
who precisely by this device (just as one quenches fire with featherbeds, and as one 
produces oblivion by prolixity) may manage to elude the short, clear factual point, the 
point which perhaps for the Established Church is definitive, namely, this thing of 
representing from the pulpit Bishop Mynster as a witness to the truth, one of the genuine 


What I have said is short and to the point. Bishop Mynster's preach- 
ing soft-pedals, slurs over, suppresses, omits something of the most 
decisively Christian. When that is said, everyone can see it, especially 
the plain man. To the man who, being better educated, knows all about 
this sort of thing I can say: Bishop Mynster's preaching is related to 
the Christianity of the New Testament as Epicureanism is to Stoicism, 
or as cultivation, refinement, education, is related to a fundamental 
change of character, to a radical cure. In no instance does his preaching 
bring Christianity up to what it is everywhere in the New Testament, 
namely, a breach, the very deepest and most incurable breach with 
this world — any more than did Bishop Mynster's life (as is easily ex- 
plained by his infinite dread of everything radical) resemble even in the 
remotest way a breach with this world — unless we are satisfied with 
the explanation: One is tout-a-fait a man of the world, a man entirely 
of this world, and "at the same time" one has broken with this world — 
which corresponds with attaining and enjoying all worldly goods and 
advantages by the preaching of Christianity, and being "at the same 
time" a witness to the truth; and that, as I showed (alluding also to 
maidenhood, virginity, as a beautiful symbol of heterogeneity to this 
world) corresponds to a virgin with her numerous flock of children. 

Here I might end. Let me, however, add a few words prompted by 
an utterance made as I recall by one of his defenders, 9 the justice of 
which even the most zealous admirers of Mynster will surely admit. 
"Bishop Mynster was not really a preacher of repentance." But this, 
especially in the case of a witness to the truth, is a dubious recommenda- 
tion; for all true Christian preaching is first and foremost a preaching 
of repentance. "Bishop Mynster was rather a preacher of peace." But 
this, especially in the case of a witness to the truth, is a dubious recom- 
mendation : in the character of a preacher of peace to proclaim the doc- 
trine of Him Who Himself said (these are known to be His own 
words), "I came not to bring peace but dissension" — He came indeed 
into the world not to enjoy but to suffer. And therefore it is that I have 
said of Bishop Mynster, that viewed in the light of a witness to the 
truth and Christianly appraised, he was self-indulgent: self-indulgently 
he loved "peace," the first requisite for enjoying life, according to the 

witnesses to the truth, one in the holy chain of witnesses, a statement which was not 
improved but aggravated, to the detriment of the Church, by the ill-advised impudence 
of this same man — the chief pastor of the Church, the Honorable and Right Reverend 
Bishop Martensen — in the face of a protest which Christianly was justified in the very 
highest degree. 


old saying of Epicurus, 10 nihil beatum nisi quietutn, i.e. the first req- 
uisite for the enjoyment of life is peace. 

Let then so much suffice for this time. It is an exception I have made. 
In the main I must leave it to the many who oppose me to answer and 
thank one another reciprocally. 

IV. The Fatherland, January 29, 1855 

The point at issue with Bishop Martensen, 

as conclusive, Christianly, for the hitherto dubious state 
of the Established Church, Christianly considered. 

January 26, 1855. S. Kierkegaard. 

The point at issue is this: about representing from the pulpit Bishop 
Mynster as a witness to the truth, one of the genuine witnesses to the 
truth, one in the holy chain of witnesses. 

This it is which must constantly be held fast, this it is which everyone 
who takes the matter seriously must every day have stamped upon his 
mind, in order to be able to hold it fast in spite of the mass of confusion 
which in the past days has been poured out through the press. 

This is the issue — and it will be evident that the new Bishop, by thus 
canonizing Bishop Mynster, makes the Established Church, from the 
Christian point of view, an impudent indecency. 

For if Bishop Mynster is a witness to the truth, then, as even the 
blindest can see, every priest in the land is a witness to the truth. For 
what was distinguished and extraordinary in Bishop Mynster has noth- 
ing whatever to do with this question whether he was a witness to the 
truth or was not a witness to the truth, a question which has to do with 
character, life, existence; and in that respect Bishop Mynster was per- 
fectly homogeneous with every other priest in the land who does not 
offend against civil justice. So every priest in the land is at the same 
time a witness to the truth. 

But when the ordinary preaching of Christianity here in this land, 
the official preaching of Christianity, performed by royal functionaries, 
men of consequence, whose preaching is their worldly career — when 
this preaching of Christianity is put alongside of the New Testament, 
alongside of what Jesus Christ (the poor, humiliated man, mocked and 


spat upon) requires of "a disciple of Jesus Christ" (and such surely the 
priest should be, if he is to be accounted a witness to the truth), along- 
side of what Jesus Christ requires, that the doctrine be preached "for 
naught," that the doctrine be preached in poverty, in abasement, with 
renunciation of everything, in the most unconditional heterogeneity 
to this world, at the furthest remove from all use or application of 
worldly power, etc.— then it is seen only too easily that the official 
preaching of Christianity, compared with the New Testament, can only 
be defended (if it can be) in the way I one time indicated by the pseudo- 
nym Anti-Climacus. With respect to this, however, it is to be noted, 
that the Established Church has hitherto let nothing be heard from it, 
has not in the remotest way showed a disposition to make known how 
remotely it is related to New Testament Christianity, and it is not 
even possible to say of it with truth that it is an effort in the direction 
of coming closer to the Christianity of the New Testament. 

On the contrary, so soon as it is said that a priest is at the same time 
a witness to the truth, that very instant the Established Church is, 
Christianly considered, an impudent indecency. With this assertion the 
Established Church can no longer be regarded as an extreme instance 
of leniency which nevertheless is related to the Christianity of the New 
Testament, but it is openly an apostasy from the Christianity of the 
New Testament; with this assertion it is, Christianly, an impudent in- 
decency, an effort in the direction of making a fool of God, making a 
fool of Him, as though we did not understand what He is talking about 
in His Word; for when in His Word He talks about preaching the 
doctrine for naught, we understand it to mean that preaching is of 
course a livelihood, the surest way to bread and steady promotion; when 
in His Word He talks about preaching the Word in poverty, we under- 
stand thereby some thousands yearly in stipend; when in His Word He 
talks about preaching the Word in lowliness, we understand it as mak- 
ing a career, becoming Your Excellency; and by heterogeneity to this 
world we understand a royal functionary, a man of consequence; by 
abhorrence for the use and employment of worldly power we under- 
stand using and being secured by worldly power; by suffering for the 
doctrine we understand using the police against others; and by re- 
nunciation of everything we understand getting everything, the most 
exquisite refinements, for which the heathen has in vain licked his 
fingers — and at the same time we are witnesses to the truth. 

The Honorable and Right Reverend Bishop Martenson, Privy Coun- 
selor (whoever it may be he counsels) 11 transforms the whole Church 


Establishment, Christianly understood, into an impudent indecency 
by representing from the pulpit Bishop Mynster as a witness to the 
truth, one in the holy chain of witnesses. No man who bears in mind 
what Christianity teaches, that he is going to confront an eternal re- 
sponsibility, a judgment (where the Judge is the humbled man, mocked, 
spat upon, crucified, Who said, "Follow me," "my kingdom is not of 
this world"), an accounting in which acts of lese-majeste against Chris- 
tianity are the crimes last forgiven — no one who bears this in mind can 
hold his peace with regard to Bishop Martensen's new doctrine defining 
what is to be understood by a witness to the truth, one in the holy chain 
of witnesses — no one can hold his peace, even though (which to me is 
neither here nor there) , even though I should be the only one who does 
not keep silent; it is enough for me that in eternity it will be noted 
that I did not hold my peace. 

I here repeat my protest, not softened but sharpened: I would rather 
gamble, carouse, fornicate, steal, murder, than take part in making a 
fool of God; rather pass my days in bowling alleys and billiard halls, 
my nights in gaming and at masquerades, than take part in that kind 
of seriousness which Bishop Martensen calls Christian seriousness; yea, 
I would rather make a fool of God bluntly, climb up to a high place 
or go out into the open where I am alone with Him, and say, "Thou 
art a wretched God, worth no more than to be made a fool of" — rather 
than make a fool of Him by solemnly representing that I am holy, 
that my life is sheer zeal and ardor for Christianity, yet — O cursed 
ambiguity! — in such a way, be it noted, that "at the same time" this 
is constantly my temporal and earthly profit; representing that my life's 
first and last interest is enthusiasm for preaching the Gospel, yet in 
such a way, be it noted, that there are certain things I prefer both first 
and last to ignore, and when they are talked about I act as if I didn't 
understand them, as if I didn't understand what God is talking about, 
that what He talks about is suffering for the doctrine, suffering hunger 
and thirst and cold and nakedness and imprisonment and scourging, 
that this is what He understands by being a witness to the truth, and 
that if I shrink back from these terms and would prefer a merrier path, 
prefer that the preaching of Christianity might be like every other hu- 
man labor, or rather even richer in pleasure than the others, so that if 
it is practicable, if in this way I can become blessed like the witness to 
the truth, I shall thank my God for it and restrain my cursed mouth 
from twaddling about being at the same time a witness to the truth, 


and finally, if I cannot control my tongue, I shall at least confine my- 
self to talking about this in the parlor, over a cup of tea with my wife 
and some prating friends, but keep a watch upon myself in the pulpit. 

But from the pulpit — therefore before God— to represent Bishop 
Mynster as a witness to the truth, one of the genuine witnesses to the 
truth, one in the holy chain of witnesses — before God, whose presence 
was assured by calling upon Him to be present in the prayer before the 
sermon — to represent him (for this too was done), to represent this 
man — God in heaven! — before the congregation as a pattern, before a 
Christian congregation, and therefore as a Christian pattern! So the 
"way" has now become a different one, not that of the New Testa- 
ment: in humiliation, hated, forsaken, persecuted, condemned to suffer 
in this world — no, the way is: admired, acclaimed, crowned with gar- 
lands, accorded the accolade of knighthood as the reward of a brilliant 
career! And as the "way" has become a different one, indeed the very 
opposite, so too has the interpretation of Biblical passages become dif- 
ferent. When we read in the New Testament the passage which Bishop 
Martensen used in the memorial address, Hebrews 13:7, "Remember 
those who had the rule over you . . . and considering the issue of their life, 
imitate their faith," this is not any longer to be understood to mean, 
consider the issue of their life, i.e. see that their life was sheer renuncia- 
tion and sheer suffering for the doctrine; remain true to yourselves 
until the last, do not regret having sacrificed everything, but also in 
death, perhaps a martyr's death, preserve the boldness of faith — in this 
way it is now no longer to be understood; no, you shall now under- 
stand it thus, as Bishop Martensen teaches: Consider Bishop Mynster, 
see the issue of his life, consider that he attained the rank of Excellency; 
consider the issue of his life, you yourselves know what preparations 
.were made for the most pompous funeral: consider this, and follow 
him, he is the way, not Christ, who says warningly, "What is exalted 
among men is an abomination in the sight of God" (Luke 16:15). 

If my memory is not at fault, a complaint has just now been made 
somewhere in our land by the Bishop that a church was improperly 
used for a political meeting. Suppose that somewhere else people had 
the idea of using the church for a ball — what is that in comparison with 
using the church under the name of Christian worship to make a fool 
of God! But of course when the bishop himself does that, no one can 
complain of the Bishop. 

For my part I have no mind to make complaint to anybody, I merely 
repeat my protest. Maybe I shall not be understood — well, I am under- 


stood by God, and I understand myself. Maybe it will go ill with me — 
well, that is what the New Testament presupposes. Maybe I shall not 
succeed — well, in a Christian sense, victory is only won by defeat! 

But when scandal has been given, a scandal must be raised against it, 
and one must not complain that the step I have taken has unfortu- 
nately 12 aroused so much scandal. No, it has not yet aroused scandal 
enough in proportion to the scandal of representing from the pulpit 
Bishop Mynster as a witness to the truth, one of the genuine witnesses 
to the truth, one link in the holy chain. "The blood must be stirred, 
passion set in motion" — if it is visited upon the operator, that is just a 
part of the operation. After more than forty years of conjuring tricks 
performed with great worldly shrewdness, when the conjurer moreover 
was made a witness of the truth, one cannot come off easily, unless one 
would contrive to be transformed, together with one's protest, into a little 
conjuring act as a continuation of the old enchantment. 

V. The Fatherland, January '29, 1855 

Two new witnesses to the Truth 

January 26. S. Kierkegaard. 

"There is a diversity of gifts," Bishop Martensen says so justly in the 
Berlin News, No. 302. The late Bishop had an extraordinary gift for 
covering over the weak side of the Established Church and its frailties; 
the new Bishop Martensen, also a gifted man, has a rare gift for laying 
bare, by every least thing he undertakes to do, one or another weak 
side of the Established Church. The late Bishop had an unusual gift for 
yielding shrewdly, for giving way, for accommodating himself; Bishop 
Martensen (for there is a diversity of gifts) has the gift, at this time 
especially perilous to the Church, of wanting to brave it out. Yet it 
might be, possibly it is the thought of divine governance, that the Estab- 
lishment should survive as long as the old man lived, who also was 
gifted to that effect, and that after his death the Establishment shall 
fall, and to that effect we have Bishop Martensen in the episcopal chair, 
a man who is gifted precisely in that direction. Surely nothing more 
than Bishop Martensen is needed to bring that about, I perhaps shall 
be quite superfluous, or what I can manage to do will be something 
entirely subordinate, and yet even in this regard I am not wholly with- 


out gifts, inasmuch as I have the gift to sec.what Bishop Martensen 
lays bare. 

Now what I protested against was the linguistic solecism of calling 
what we mean by priests, cleans, bishops, "witnesses" or "witnesses to 
the truth"; it was against this linguistic usage I protested, because it is 
blasphemous, sacrilegious — but Bishop Martensen is resolved to brave 
it out, as one may see from his ordination 13 address,* where he spouts 
incessantly about witnessing, being a witness, a witness to the truth, etc. 

In the New Testament Christ calls the Apostles and the disciples 
"witnesses," requires them to witness to Him. Let us see now what is to 
be understood by this. These are men who by the renunciation of all 
things, in poverty, in lowliness, and thus ready for every suffering, 
were to go out into the world which expresses mortal hostility to the 
Christian way of life. This is what Christ calls "witnesses" and "wit- 

What we call "priest," "dean," "bishop," indicates a livelihood, like 
every other employment in the community, and in a community, be 
it noted, where, since all call themselves "Christians," no danger is in 
the remotest degree connected with teaching Christianity, where on 
the contrary this profession may be considered one of the most agree- 
able and the most highly honored. 

Now I ask, is there the least resemblance between these priests, deans, 
bishops, and what Christ calls "witnesses"? Or is it not just as ridiculous 
to call such priests, deans, bishops, "witnesses," just as ridiculous as to 
call a maneuver on the town common a "battle"? No, if the clergy 
want to be called "witnesses," "witnesses to the truth," they must also 
resemble what the New Testament calls witnesses, witnesses to the 
truth; if they have no mind at all to resemble what the New Testament 
understands by witnesses, witnesses to the truth, neither must they be 
called that; they may be called "teachers," "civil functionaries," "pro- 
fessors," "councilors," in short, what you will, only not "witnesses to 
the truth." 

But Dr. Martensen remains indefatigable in affirming that they are 
witnesses, witnesses to the truth. If the clergy understand their own 
interests, they will not hesitate to beg the Bishop to go easy with this 
linguistic usage which makes their whole order ridiculous. For it is 
true that I know several men who are highly respectable, competent, 

* The speeches made on that occasion have now come out in print. The presentation 
address by Dean Tryde, a thing of naught, is distinguished by the fact that, as if it were 
something, a footnote remarks, "The author feels called upon to declare that naught 
has been omitted, naught has been changed." 


eminently competent clergyman; but I venture to assert that in the 
whole realm there is not a single one who viewed in the light of a wit- 
ness to the truth is not comical. 

And, to put it mildly, it is not seemly for a bishop to make the whole 
clerical order ridiculous, neither is it seemly for a bishop to transform 
a solemn action like an episcopal consecration into something one does 
not know whether to laugh or cry over, all for the sake of braving out 
the linguistic use of "witnesses" and of "witnesses to the truth." The 
ordination occurred the day after Christmas, the feast of the martyr 
Stephen. How satirical! The Bishop takes occasion to say, among other 
things, that the word "witness to the truth" "rings on this day with a 
peculiar sound." That is undeniable — only that peculiar sound is a 
dissonance, for the fact that either Stephen becomes ridiculous by the 
help of "various witnesses to the truth" whom Dr. Martensen has ready 
to hand, or all of them become ridiculous in the character of witnesses 
under the light shed upon them by Stephen. 

VI. The Fatherland, March 20, 1855 

With regard to Bishop Mynster's death 

Mark 13:2. Seest thou these great buildings? 
There shall not . . . 

March 31, 1854.* S. Kierkegaard. 

Certainly it would have been most desirable if it had ended with 
Bishop Mynster saying to the nation straightforwardly and as solemnly 
as possible that what he represented was not the New Testament Chris- 
tianity but, if one would put it so, a pious tempering and mitigation of 
it, which in manifold ways was enveloped in illusion. 

This did not come to pass! 

For my part I maintain inalterably my assertion, only that now I 
utter aloud and publicly that concerning which I dealt secretly with 
the deceased Bishop, hidden from his enemies (for against them I 
fought for him), hidden from the many, who surely had no presenti- 
ment of it: my assertion that official Christianity, the official preaching 
of Christianity, is in no sense the Christianity of the New Testament. 

•Notice the year and the date. [Bishop Mynster died at the beginning of February; 
so this was written not quite two months later.] 


In any case this then must be admitted as loudly and openly as possible, 
so that divine governance, if it might be pleased to do so, could take 
a hand, and then we would have opportunity to see whether it is will- 
ing to permit such a preaching of Christianity. But without such an ad- 
mission the official preaching of Christianity, by giving itself out to be 
the Christianity of the New Testament, is — unconsciously or well- 
meaningly — an illusion. Christianity cannot be well served by calling 
this sort of thing Christianity, with the implication that it is the Chris- 
tianity of the New Testament; and Christianly the congregation cannot 
be well served thereby, for it fails to observe what Christianity accord- 
ing to the New Testament is. 

Feast of the Annunciation 

O thou, whosoever thou art under whose eye this falls — when I read 
in the New Testament the life of our Lord Jesus Christ here on earth, 
and see what he meant by being a Christian — and when I reflect that 
now we are Christians by the millions, just as many Christians as we are 
men, that from generation to generation Christians by the millions 
are handed over for inspection by eternity — frightful! For that there is 
something wrong with this, nothing can be more certain. Say for thy- 
self what good it does — even if it were ever so pious and well-meant! — 
what good it does to wish (lovingly?) to confirm thee in the vain con- 
ceit that thou art a Christian, or to wish to alter the definition of what 
it is to be a Christian, in order presumably that thou mayest more 
securely enjoy this life; what good it does thee, or rather is not this 
precisely to do thee harm, since it is to help thee to let the temporal 
life go by unused in a Christian sense — until thou art standing in 
eternity where thou art not a Christian, in case thou wast not one, and 
where it is impossible to become a Christian? Thou who readest this, 
say to thyself: Was I not in the right, and am I not, in saying that first 
and foremost everything must be done to make it perfectly definite 
what is required in the New Testament for being a Christian; that 
first and foremost everything must be done in order that at least we 
might become attentive? 

VII. The Fatherland, Wednesday, March 21, 1855 

Is this Christian worship, or is it treating 
God as a fool? 

[A question of conscience (to ease my conscience) ] 

May 1854. S. Kierkegaard. 

When at a given time the state of the case is this, that, being privately 
aware, one makes as if nothing were the matter, whereas as a matter of 
fact everything is changed : 

when the teacher (the priest) is bound by an oath upon the New 
Testament, is ordained, whereas as a matter of fact he not only has no 
portrait-resemblance to a disciple of Jesus Christ, but not even a cari- 
cature resemblance; no, is precisely the direct opposite of it, the trivial 

when the doctrine which is preached as God's Word is different from 
God's Word for the fact that it is not the same, nor the opposite, but 
neither one thing nor the other, which is precisely what is most con- 
trary to Christianity and to God's Word; 

when the situation in which we speak (and the situation is what 
really defines how we are to understand what is said), when the situa- 
tion no more resembles that in the New Testament than a bourgeois 
parlor or the child's playroom resembles the most frightful conflict we 
are confronted with in the most appalling reality, or resembles it even 
less, in so far as people spiritlessly pretend that the two situations re- 
semble one another; 

when the state of the case is this — and then, privately aware of it, 
people make as if nothing were the matter: is this then Christian wor- 
ship, or is it treating God as a fool, treating Him as a fool by such an 
official worship, perhaps with the notion that, if only we call this Chris- 
tianity, we can get away with it, by preachifying this at Him every Sun- 
day we can make Him believe that this is Christianity? 


By way of explanation 

Ascension Day. 

i. As to what I have said of the teacher (the priest), 
that he is the trivial contrary. 

The portraitlike description of the priest is this : a half worldly, half 
Churchly civil servant, a person of rank, who (with the hope of promo- 
tion according to seniority, and of becoming in his turn recipient of a 
knightly order — how thoroughly in the spirit of the New Testament!) 
makes certain of a living for himself and his family, if necessary by 
the help of the police (who exact the tithes), (is this, I wonder, in 
compliance with the word of the Apostle, i Corinthians 9:26, "not to 
run uncertainly"?*), makes certain of a living, supports himself by the 
fact that Jesus Christ was crucified, maintaining that this profound 
earnestness (this imitation of Jesus Christ?) is the Christianity of the 
New Testament, complaining sadly and with sighs that unfortunately 
there are so few true Christians — a fact which is sure enough — and for 
all that he walks in long robes, which Christ, however, does not exactly 
recommend when both in Mark and Luke He says (Mark 12:38; Luke 
20:46), "Beware of those who go about in long robes." 

2. As to what I have said about the "situation." 

In the New Testament the situation is this: the speaker, our Lord 
Jesus Christ, Himself absolutely expressing opposition, stands in a world 
which in turn absolutely expresses opposition to Him and to His teach- 
ing. When of the individual Christ requires faith, then (and with this 
we have a sharper definition of what He understands by faith), then 
by reason of the situation this is not feasible without coming into a 
relationship with the surrounding world which perhaps involves mortal 
danger; when Christ says, "Confess me before the world," "Follow me," 
or when He says, "Come unto me," etc., etc., then, by reason of the 
situation which furnishes the more express understanding, the conse- 
quences will always be exposure to danger, perhaps to mortal danger. 
On the other hand, where all are Christians, the situation is this: to 
call oneself a Christian is the means whereby one secures oneself 
against all sorts of inconveniences and discomforts, and the means 
whereby one secures worldly goods, comforts, profit, etc., etc. But we 
make as if nothing had happened, we declaim about believing ("He who 

•The Apostle understands it thus: "I buffet my body" in order not to run uncertainly. 


knows best, that is our priest" 14 ), about confessing Christ before the 
world, about following Him, etc., etc.; and orthodoxy nourishes in the 
land, no heresy, no schism, orthodoxy everywhere, the orthodoxy which 
consists in playing the game of Christianity. 

VIII. The Fatherland, Thursday, March 22, 1855 

What must be done 

— whether by me or by another 

Monday in Whitsun Week. S. Kierkegaard. 

First and foremost, and on the greatest possible scale, an end must be 
put to the whole official — well-meaning — falsehood which well-mean- 
ingly — conjures up and maintains the illusion that what is preached 
is Christianity, the Christianity of the New Testament. Here is a 
case where no quarter must be given. If the Freethinkers have already 
dealt this falsehood a pretty shrewd blow, it can be only more forcible 
(if one does not wish otherwise) when he who fights has not Satan 
on his side but God. 

Then when that is done, the question must be put in this form : After 
all, is not this really the true situation, that from generation to genera- 
tion things have so gone from bad to worse with us men, that we men 
from generation to generation are so degenerate, so demoralized, have 
to such a degree become hardly more than beasts, that unfortunately 
the situation is such that — instead of the impudent fudge about Chris- 
tianity being perfectible, 15 and we advancing, to such a point indeed 
that Christianity no longer satisfies us — that we wretched, pitiable men, 
who are priced by the dozen or the score, when it comes to the point 
are not really able to bear this divine thing which is the Christianity of 
the New Testament, and that therefore we must be content with the 
sort of religiousness which is now the official thing — when already it 
has been made known, you are to note, that it is not the Christianity 
of the New Testament ? In this way the case must now be stated, and 
the question must be put, whether perhaps it is with the human race as 
it is with the individual, who the older he grows the more good-for- 
nothing he becomes — something he cannot alter and therefore must 
humbly put up with — whether it is perhaps the same with the race, so 


that it cannot be altered, and it is not God's requirement of us that we 
should alter it, but we must put up with it, humbly acknowledging our 
wretchedness; whether the human race has not now reached the age 
when it is literally true that no longer is there to be found or to be 
born an individual who is capable of being a Christian in the New 
Testament sense. In this way the case must be stated : away then, away 
with all optical illusions! Out with the truth! Out with the declaration 
that we no longer are capable of being Christians in the New Testa- 
ment sense! — and, for all that, we feel the need of daring to hope in 
an eternal blessedness, which we also might get on very different terms 
than those proposed by the New Testament. 

When the case is stated thus, it will become apparent whether there 
is anything true in this expectation, whether it has the consent of divine 
governance — if not, then everything must fall to pieces, in order that 
in this horror the individual might again come into existence who could 
bear the Christianity of the New Testament. But an end must be put 
to the official — well-meaning — falsehood. 

IX. The Fatherland, Monday, March 26, 1855 

The religious situation 

January 1855. S. Kierkegaard. 

The religious situation in our country is: Christianity (that is, the 
Christianity of the New Testament — and everything else is not Chris- 
tianity, least of all by calling itself such), Christianity does not exist — 
as almost anyone must be able to see as well as I. 

We have, if you will, a complete crew of bishops, deans, and priests; 
learned men, eminently learned, talented, gifted, humanly well-mean- 
ing; they all declaim — doing it well, very well, eminently well, or toler- 
ably well, or badly — but not one of them is in the character of the 
Christianity of the New Testament. But if such is the case, the exist- 
ence of this Christian crew is so far from being, Christianly considered, 
advantageous to Christianity that it is far rather a peril, because it is 
so infinitely likely to give rise to a false impression and the false infer- 
ence that when we have such a complete crew we must of course have 
Christianity, too. A geographer, for example, when he has assured him- 
self of the existence of this crew, would think that he was thoroughly 


justified in putting into his geography the statement that the Christian 
religion prevails in the land. 

We have what one might call a complete inventory of churches, bells, 
organs, benches, alms-boxes, foot-warmers, tables, hearses, etc. But when 
Christianity does not exist, the existence of this inventory, so far from 
being, Christianly considered, an advantage, is far rather a peril, because 
it is so infinitely likely to give rise to a false impression and the false 
inference that when we have such a complete Christian inventory we 
must of course have Christianity, too. A statistician, for example, when 
he had assured himself of the existence of this Christian inventory, 
would think that he was thoroughly justified in putting into his sta- 
tistics the statement that the Christian religion is the prevailing one in 
the land. 

We are what is called a "Christian" nation — but in such a sense that 
not a single one of us is in the character of the Christianity of the New 
Testament, any more than I am, who again and again have repeated, 
and do now repeat, that I am only a poet. The illusion of a Christian 
nation is due doubtless to the power which number exercises over the 
imagination. I have not the least doubt that every single individual in 
the nation will be honest enough with God and with himself to say 
in solitary conversation, "If I must be candid, I do not deny that I am 
not a Christian in the New Testament sense; if I must be honest, I do 
not deny that my life cannot be called an effort in the direction of 
what the New Testament calls Christianity, in the direction of deny- 
ing myself, renouncing the world, dying from it, etc.; rather the earthly 
and the temporal become more and more important to me with every 
year I live." I have not the least doubt that everyone will, with respect 
to ten of his acquaintances, let us say, be able to hold fast to the view 
that they are not Christians in the New Testament sense, and that 
their lives are not even an effort in the direction of becoming such. But 
when there are 100,000, one becomes confused — They tell a ludicrous 
story about an inkeeper, a story moreover which is related incidentally 
by one of my pseudonyms, 16 but I would use it again because it has 
always seemed to me to have a profound meaning. It is said that he 
sold his beer by the bottle for a cent less than he paid for it; and when 
a certain man said to him, "How does that balance the account? That 
means to spend money," he replied, "No, my friend, it's the big num- 
ber that does it" — big number, that also in our time is the almighty 
power. When one has laughed at this story, one would do well to take 
to heart the lesson which warns against the power which number ex- 


ercises over the imagination. For there can be no doubt that this inn- 
keeper knew very well that one bottle of beer which he sold for 3 cents 
meant a loss of 1 cent when it cost him 4 cents. Also with regard to 
ten bottles the innkeeper will be able to hold fast that it is a loss. But 
100,000 bottles! Here the big number stirs the imagination, the round 
number runs away with it, and the innkeeper becomes dazed — it's a 
profit, says he, for the big number does it. So also with the calculation 
which arrives at a Christian nation by adding up units which are not 
Christian, getting the result by means of the notion that the big number 
does it. For true Christianity this is the most dangerous of all illusions, 
and at the same time it is of all illusions precisely the one to which 
every man is prone; for number (the high number, when it gets up to 
100,000, into the millions) tallies precisely with the imagination. But 
Christianly of course the calculation is wrong, and a Christian nation 
composed of units which honestly admit that they are not Christians, 
item honestly admit that their life cannot in any sense be called an effort 
in the direction of what the New Testament understands by Chris- 
tianity — such a Christian nation is an impossibility. On the other hand, 
a knave could not wish to find a better hiding-place than behind such 
phrases as "the nation is Christian," "the people are making a Christian 
endeavor," since it is almost as difficult to come to close quarters with 
such phrases as it would be if one were to say, "N. N. is a Christian, 
N. N. is engaged in Christian endeavor." 

But inasmuch as Christianity is spirit, the sobriety of spirit, the 
honesty of eternity, there is of course nothing which to its detective eye 
is so suspicious as are all fantastic entities: Christian states, Christian 
lands, a Christian people, and (how marvelous!) a Christian world. 
And even if there were something true in this talk about Christian 
peoples and states — but, mind you, only when all mediating definitions, 
all divergencies from the Christianity of the New Testament, are hon- 
esdy and honorably pointed out and kept in evidence — yet it is certain 
that at this point a monstrous criminal offense has been perpetrated, 
yea, everything this world has hitherto seen in the way of criminal af- 
fairs is a mere bagatelle in comparison with this crime, which has been 
carried on from generation to generation throughout long ages, eluding 
human justice, but has not yet got beyond the arm of divine justice. 

This is the religious situation. And to obviate if possible a waste of 
time I will at once anticipate a turn which one will perhaps give the 
matter. Let me explain by means of another case. If there were living 
in the land a poet who in view of the ideal of what it is to love talked 


in this fashion: "Alas, I must myself admit that I cannot truly be said 
to be in love; neither will I play the hypocrite and say that I am en- 
deavoring more and more in this direction, for the truth unfortunately 
is that things are rather going backward with me. Moreover, my ob- 
servation convinces me that in the whole land there is not a single per- 
son who can be said to be truly in love" — then the inhabitants of the 
land could reply to him, and in a certain degree with justice: "Yes, my 
good poet, that may be true enough with your ideals; but we are con- 
tent, we find ourselves happy with what we call being in love, and that 
settles it." But such can never be the case with Christianity. The New 
Testament indeed settles what Christianity is, leaving it to eternity to 
pass judgment upon us. In fact the priest is bound by an oath upon the 
New Testament — so it is not possible to regard that as Christianity 
which men like best and prefer to call Christianity. As soon as we as- 
sume that we may venture to give the matter this turn, Christianity is 
eo ipso done away with, and the priest's oath. ..but here I break off, 
I do not wish to draw the inference before they constrain me further 
to do so, and even then I do not wish to do it. But if we do not dare 
to give the matter this turn, there are only two ways open to us: either 
(as I propose) honestly and honorably to make an admission as to how 
we are related to the Christianity of the New Testament; or to perform 
artful tricks to conceal the true situation, tricks to conjure up the vain 
semblance that Christianity is the prevailing religion in the land. 

X. The Fatherland, Thursday, March 28, 1855 

A thesis 

— only a single one 

January 26, 1855. S. Kierkegaard. 

O Luther, thou hadst 95 theses — terrible! And yet, in a deeper sense, 
the more theses, the less terrible. This case is far more terrible: there is 
only one thesis. 

The Christianity of the New Testament simply does not exist. Here 
there is nothing to reform; what has to be done is to throw light upon 
a criminal offense against Christianity, prolonged through centuries, 

SALT 33 

perpetrated by millions (more or less guiltily), whereby they have cun- 
ningly, under the guise of perfecting Christianity, sought little by little 
to cheat God out of Christianity, and have succeeded in making Chris- 
tianity exactly the opposite of what it is in the New Testament. 

In order that the common Christianity here in our country, the of- 
ficial Christianity, may be said truly to be even so much as related to 
the Christianity of the New Testament, we must make it known, as 
honestly, as openly, as solemnly as possible, how remote it is from the 
Christianity of the New Testament, and how little it can truly be called 
an endeavor in the direction of coming nearer to the Christianity of 
the New Testament. 

So long as this is not done, so long as we either make as if nothing 
were the matter, as if everything were all right, and what we call 
"Christianity" is the Christianity of the New Testament, or we perform 
artful tricks to conceal the difference, tricks to support the appearance 
that it is the Christianity of the New Testament — so long as this Chris- 
tian criminal offense continues, there can be no question of reforming, 
but only of throwing light upon this Christian criminal offense. 

And to say a word about myself: I am not what the age perhaps de- 
mands, a reformer — that by no means, nor a profound speculative spirit, 
a seer, a prophet; no (pardon me for saying it), I am in a rare degree 
an accomplished detective talent. What a marvelous coincidence that 
I am contemporary precisely with that period of Church history which, 
in a modern sense, is the period of "witnesses to the truth," when all 
are "holy witnesses to the truth." 

XI. The Fatherland, Friday, March 30, 1855 

"Salt" 17 ; 

for "Christendom" is...the betrayal of Christianity; 
a "Christian world" is...apostasy from Christianity. 

February 1855. S. Kierkegaard. 

Before a man can be made use of as I am here, governance must 
coerce him dreadfully — this too is the case with me. 


Protestantism, Christianly considered, is quite simply an untruth, 
a piece of dishonesty, which falsifies the teaching, the word-view, the 
life -view of Christianity, just as soon as it is regarded as a principle 
for Christianity, not as a remedy [corrective] at a given time and place. 

For this cause to enter the Catholic Church would for all that be a 
precipitate act which I shall not commit, but which perhaps people 
will expect, since in these times it is as though it were entirely forgotten 
what Christianity is, and even those who have the best understanding 
of Christianity are only tyros. 

No, one can well be alone in being a Christian. And if one is not 
very strong in the spirit, a good maxim of human prudence is, "The 
fewer the better." And above all in Christendom, the fewer the better! 
For in the last resort, precisely to the concept "Church" is to be traced 
the fundamental confusion both of Protestantism and of Catholicism — 
or is it to the concept "Christendom"?* Christ required "followers" and 
defined precisely what he meant: that they should be salt, willing to 
be sacrificed, and that a Christian means to be salt and to be willing 
to be sacrificed. But to be salt and to be sacrificed is not something to 
which thousands naturally lend themselves, still less millions, or (still 
less!) countries, kingdoms, states, and (absolutely not!) the whole 
world. On the other hand, if it is a question of gain and of mediocrity 
and of twaddle (which is the opposite of being salt), then the possibility 
of the thing begins already with the 100,000, increases with every million, 
reaching its highest point when the whole world has become Christian. 

For this reason "man" is interested and employed' in winning whole 
nations of Christians, kingdoms, lands, a whole world of Christians — 
for thus the thing of being a Christian becomes something different 
from what it is in the New Testament. 

And this end has been attained, has been best attained, indeed com- 
pletely, in Protestantism, especially in Denmark, in the Danish even- 
tempered, jovial mediocrity. When one sees what it is to be a Christian 
in Denmark, how could it occur to anyone that this is what Jesus 
Christ talks about: cross and agony and suffering, crucifying the flesh, 

* Thou who readest this, impress upon thy mind what follows. When Christianity 
came into the world the task was to spread the teaching. In Christendom, where the evil 
lies precisely in the false breadth of spread, brought about by a false way of spreading 
it, what is called upon to counteract this evil (the breadth of spread) must above all 
things take care not to have itself the form of extension — therefore the fewer the better, 
preferably in a literal sense a single person, for from the broad spread (extension) comes 
the evil, and so the counteraction must come from. ..the intensive. 

SALT 35 

suffering for the doctrine, being salt, being sacrificed, etc.? No, in Prot- 
estantism, especially in Denmark, Christianity marches to a different 
melody, to the tune of "Merrily we roll along, roll along, roll along" — 
Christianity is enjoyment of life, tranquillized, as neither the Jew nor 
the pagan was, by the assurance that the thing about eternity is settled, 
settled precisely in order that we might find pleasure in enjoying this 
life, as well as any pagan or Jew. 

Christianity simply does not exist. If the human race had risen in 
rebellion against God and cast Christianity off from it or away from it, 
it would not have been nearly so dangerous as this knavishness of do- 
ing away with Christianity by a false way of spreading it, making 
Christians of everybody and giving this activity the appearance of zeal 
for the spreading of the doctrine, scoffing at God by offering Him 
thanks for bestowing His blessing upon the progress Christianity was 
thus making. 

What is to be understood by being a Christian Christ Himself has 
declared, we can read in the Gospels. — Then He left the earth, but pre- 
dicted His coming again. And with regard to His coming again there 
is one prediction of His which reads : "When the Son of Man cometh, 
will He find faith on the earth?" If it is all as it should be with the 
immense battalions of Christians, nations, kingdoms, lands, a whole 
world of Christians, then the prospect of His coming is remote. Seen 
conversely, one might well say, Everything is ready for His coming. 

Thanks be to you, ye silk and velvet priests, who in ever more 
numerous troops offered your services when it appeared that profit was 
on the side of Christianity; thanks be to you for your Christian zeal 
and fervor in behalf of these millions, of kingdoms and lands, of a 
whole world of Christians; many thanks, it was Christian zeal and 
fervor! For if things were to remain as they were, if only a few poor, 
persecuted, hated men were Christians, where was the silk and velvet 
to come from, and honor and prestige, and worldly enjoyment more 
refined than that of any other voluptuary, refined by the appearance of 
holiness which almost laid claim to worship! Disgusting! Even the 
most abandoned scum of humanity have, after all, this advantage, that 
their crimes are not extolled and honored, almost worshiped and adored, 
as Christian virtues. 

And ye mighty ones of the earth, princes and kings and emperors — 
alas, that even for an instant ye could have let yourselves be beguiled 
by these crafty men, as though God in heaven were after all only the 


highest superlative of human majesty, as though in a human sense He 
had a cause, 18 so that obviously it was infinitely more important to Him 
that a mighty man, not to say a king, an emperor, was a Christian, 
than that a beggar was! O my God, my God, my God! No — if there 
is, Christianly, any difference before God, then the beggar is infinitely 
more important to Him than the king — infinitely more important, for 
to the poor the Gospel is preached! But, true enough, to the priest the 
king is infinitely more important than the beggar. "A beggar, what 
help will he be to us? We might have to give him money." Impudent 
scoundrel — yes, Christianity is give money. "But a king, 
a king! That is prodigiously important for Christianity." Thou liar — 
no, but he is important for thee. For when the king is a Christian, 
then the group of mighty ones who are his associates follow him at once 
(and hence in the case of a king who is a Christian it is so ominous 
that no transition to being a Christian is effected which is much more 
than a change of costume), and when the king and his mighty ones 
have become Christians, or are so called, then more and more follow 
(and hence in the case of a king who is a Christian it is so ominous 
that the whole thing becomes a change which yet is no change), and 
then when the whole nation has become Christian, then (behold there- 
fore why it is so important that the king is a Christian!), then come silk 
and velvet, and stars and ribbons, and all the most exquisite refine- 
ments, and the many thousands per year. The many thousands — this 
is blood-money! For it was blood-money Judas received for Christ's 
blood — and these thousands and millions were also blood-money, which 
was procured for Christ's blood and by betraying Christianity and 
transforming it into worldliness. Only that — is it not true, thou shop- 
keeper's soul clad in velvet? — only that the case of Judas is almost laugh- 
able, so that on internal grounds one is nearly tempted to doubt if it 
is historically true, that a Jew — and that is what Judas was after all — 
that a Jew had so little understanding of money that for thirty pieces 
of silver he was ready (if one would put it so) to dispose of such a 
prodigious money value as Jesus Christ represented, the greatest source 
of revenue ever encountered in the world, on which a million quadril- 
lions have been realized, to dispose of it for thirty pieces of silver! But 
we are going forward, the world is perfectible; Judas after all expresses 
something less perfect : first because he took only thirty pieces of silver, 
next because he did not have himself honored and praised, almost wor- 
shiped and adored, as a true adherent of Christ. 


And thou, thou thoughtless multitude of men — but herewith I have 
said enough, and to boot, wherefore I say no more! Alas, thou art not 
merely deceived, but thou desirest to be deceived! What help can it do 
thee then to have sincere love, what does all disinterestedness help? — 
thou art not merely deceived — then indeed there might be some help 
for it — but thou desirest to be deceived! 19 

XII. Articles in the Fatherland, March 31, 1855 

What do I want? 

March 1855. S. Kierkegaard. 

Quite simply: I want honesty. I am not, as well-intentioned people 
represent 20 (for I can pay no attention to the interpretations of me that 
are advanced by exasperation and rage and impotence and twaddle), 
I am not a Christian severity as opposed to a Christian leniency. 

By no means. I am neither leniency nor severity: I am...a human 

The leniency which is the common Christianity in the land I want 
to place alongside of the New Testament in order to see how these 
two are related to one another. 

Then, if it appears, if I or another can prove, that it can be main- 
tained face to face with the New Testament, then with the greatest 
joy I will agree to it. 

But one thing I will not do, not for anything in the world. I will not 
by suppression, or by performing tricks, try to produce the impression 
that the ordinary Christianity in the land and the Christianity of the 
New Testament are alike. 

Behold, this it is I do not want. And why not? Well, because I want 
honesty. Or, if you wish me to talk in another way — well then, it is 
because I believe that, if possibly even the very extremest softening 
down of Christianity may hold good in the judgment of eternity, it is 
impossible that it should hold good when even artful tricks are em- 
ployed to gloss over the difference between the Christianity of the New 
Testament and this softened form. What I mean is this: If a man is 


known for his graciousness — very well then, let me venture to ask him 
to forgive me all my debt; -but even though his grace were divine grace, 
this is too much to ask, if I will not even be truthful about how great 
the debt is. 

And this in my opinion is the falsification of which official Christian- 
ity is guilty: it does not frankly and unreservedly make known the 
Christian requirement — perhaps because it is afraid people would shud- 
der to see at what a distance from it we are living, without being able 
to claim that in the remotest way our life might be called an effort 21 
in the direction of fulfilling the requirement. Or (merely to take one 
example of what is everywhere present in the New Testament) : when 
Christ requires us to save our life eternally (and that surely is what we 
propose to attain as Christians) and to hate our own life in this world, 
is there then a single one among us whose life in the remotest degree 
could be called even the weakest effort in this direction? And perhaps 
there are thousands of "Christians" in the land who are not so much 
as aware of this requirement. So then we "Christians" are living, and 
are loving our life, just in the ordinary human sense. If then by "grace" 
God will nevertheless regard us as Christians, one thing at least must 
be required: that we, being precisely aware of the requirement, have a 
true conception of how infinitely great is the grace that is showed us. 
"Grace" cannot possibly stretch so far, one thing it must never be used 
for, it must never be used to suppress or to diminish the requirement; 
for in that case "grace" would turn Christianity upside down. — Or, to 
take an example of another kind: A teacher is paid, let us say, several 
thousand. If then we suppress the Christian standard and apply the 
ordinary human rule, that it is a matter of course a man should receive 
a wage for his labor, a wage sufficient to support a family, and a con- 
siderable wage to enable him to enjoy the consideration due to a gov- 
ernment official — then a few thousand a year is certainly not much. On 
the other hand, as soon as the Christian requirement of poverty is 
brought to bear, family is a luxury, and several thousand is very high 
pay. I do not say this in order to deprive such an official of a single 
shilling, if I were able to; on the contrary, if he desired it, and I were 
able, he might well have double as many thousands: but I say that the 
suppression of the Christian requirement changes the point of view for 
all his wages. Honesty to Christianity demands that one call to mind 
the Christian requirement of poverty, which is not a capricious whim 
of Christianity, but is because only in poverty can it be truly served, 
and the more thousands a teacher of Christianity has by way of wages, 


the less he can serve Christianity. On the other hand, it is not honest 
to suppress the requirement or to perform artful tricks to produce 
the impression that this sort of business career is simply the Christianity 
of the New Testament. No — let us take money, but for God's sake not 
the next thing: let us not wish to gloss over the Christian requirement, 
so that by suppression or by falsification we may bring about an ap- 
pearance of decorum which is in the very highest degree demoralizing 
and is a sly death-blow to Christianity. 

Therefore I want honesty; but till now the Established Church has 
not been willing of its own accord to go in for that sort of honesty, 
and neither has it been willing to let itself be influenced by me. That 
does not make me, however, a leniency or a severity; no, I am and re- 
main quite simply a human honesty. 

Let me go to the utmost extreme in order, if possible, to make people 
understand what I want. 

I want honesty. If that is what the human race or this generation 
wants, if it will honorably, honestly, openly, frankly, directly rebel 
against Christianity, if it will say to God, "We can but we will not 
subject ourselves to this power" — but note that this must be done honor- 
ably, honestly, openly, frankly, directly — very well then, strange as it 
may seem, I am with them; for honesty is what I want, and wherever 
there is honesty I can take part. An honest rebellion against Christian- 
ity can only be made when a man honestly confesses what Christianity 
is, and how he himself is related to it. 

If this is what they want, if they are honest, open, candid, as it is 
seemly for a man to be when he talks with his God, which therefore 
everyone is if he respects himself and does not so deeply despise him- 
self that he would be insincere in the face of God — well then, if we 
honestly, candidly, frankly, completely admit to God how it really 
stands with us men, that the human race in the course of time has taken 
the liberty of softening and softening Christianity until at last we have 
contrived to make it exactly the opposite of what it is in the New Testa- 
ment — and that now, if the thing is possible, we should be so much 
pleased if this might be Christianity. If that is what they want, then I 
am with them. 

But one thing I will not do; no, not for anything in the world: I 
will not, though it were merely with the last quarter of the last joint 
of my little finger, I will not take part in what is known as official 
Christianity, which by suppression and by artifice gives the impression 
of being the Christianity of the New Testament; and upon my knees 


I thank my God that He has compassionately prevented me from be- 
coming too far embroiled in it. 22 

If then official Christianity in this country takes occasion from what 
is said here to employ power against me, I am ready; for I want honesty. 

For this honesty I am ready to take the risk. On the other hand, I 
do not say that it is for Christianity I take the risk. Just suppose the 
case, suppose that quite literally I were to become a sacrifice: I would 
not even in that case be a sacrifice for Christianity, but because I wanted 

But although I dare not say that I make a venture for the sake of 
Christianity, I am fully and blessedly convinced that this venture of 
mine is well-pleasing to God, has His consent. Yea, this I know, that it 
has His consent that in a world of Christians, where millions upon 
millions call themselves Christians, there is one man who says, "I dare 
not call myself a Christian, but I want honesty, and I will venture unto 
the end." 

XIII. The Fatherland, Saturday, April 7, 1855 

With reference to an anonymous proposal 23 made to 
me in No. 47 of this newspaper 

April 4, 1855. S. Kierkegaard. 

To propose to me that I write a presentation of the teaching of the 
New Testament, perhaps a big book, a dogmatic treatise, which again 
perhaps could best be written on a scientific journey in foreign parts, 
makes upon me (as doubtless it does upon those for whom my articles 
in the Fatherland are a living issue), makes upon me the impression 
that either it is a piece of foolishness, or that a trap is laid for me, in 
order that I might let the instant be filched from me, view the task 
amiss, the consequence of which possibly might be, either that I perish, 
or else remain away on a prolix scientific investigation. Instead of ex- 
horting me to write a new work, the anonymous writer might rather 
(for to me it seems preferable that the contemporaries be exhorted 
to read over and over again my articles in the Fatherland) have ex- 
horted the contemporaries to make themselves better acquainted 
with my earlier works, with the Concluding Postscript, Sickness unto 
Death, and especially with Training in Christianity, which last book, it 


is true, cannot at the instant be had from the booksellers, but that will 
soon be made good, since it is being printed for a new edition. 24 These 
books are related precisely to the instant, furnish for the instant the in- 
troductory knowledge which is desirable, for they are the introduction 
to...the instant. 25 

XIV. The Fatherland, Thursday, April n, 1855 

Would it be best now to "stop ringing the fire alarm" % 

April 7, 1855. S. Kierkegaard. 

This proposal has been made to me. However, I cannot in this respect 
humor anybody (supposing it is I who am ringing the bell) ; it would 
be inexcusable to leave off tolling as long as the fire is burning. But 
strictly speaking it is not I who am ringing the bell, it is I who am 
starting the fire in order to smoke out illusions and knavish tricks; it 
is a police raid, and a Christian police raid, for, according to the New 
Testament, Christianity is incendiarism, Christ Himself says, "I am 
come to set fire on the earth," and it is already burning, yea, and it is 
doubtless becoming a consuming conflagration, best likened to a forest 
fire, for it is "Christendom" that is set on fire. And it is the prolixities 
which have to go, the prodigiously prolix illusion fostered by the (well- 
meant or knavish) introduction of scientific learning into the Christian 
field, the prodigiously prolix conceit about millions of Christians, Chris- 
tian kingdoms and lands, a whole world of Christians. This doubtless 
suits the convenience of princes of the Church, for the sake both of pecu- 
niary advantage and of material power, and for the sake of what is the 
most exquisite and delicate refinement, that of scoffing at God and the 
New Testament, and being credited with zeal and fervor for spreading 
the doctrine. It is the prolixities which have to go, and that precisely by 
means of the burning question (if the fire is not quenched), the burn- 
ing question of the instant: that official Christianity is not the Christian- 
ity of the New Testament. 

No, official Christianity is not the Christianity of the New Testament. 
Anybody can see that merely by casting a fleeting but impartial glance 
at the Gospels, and then looking at what we call "Christianity." The 
reason why this is not seen is that by all sorts of tricks of optical illusion 
the great mass of men are prevented from seeing impartially, and the 


reason for that is that there have been introduced by the State iooo 
officials who have such difficulty about seeing impartially because the 
question of Christianity is stated for them at the same time in pecuniary 
terms, and naturally they do not want to have their eyes opened to what 
has hitherto been regarded as the surest way to bread, the surest of all, 
though it is a questionable way of livelihood, perhaps in a Christian 
sense even a "prohibited way"; the reason is that hundreds of men are 
introduced who instead of following Christ are snugly and comfortably 
settled, with family and steady promotion, under the guise that their 
activity is the Christianity of the New Testament, and who live off 
the fact that others have had to suffer for the truth (which precisely is 
Christianity), so that the relationship is completely inverted, and Chris- 
tianity, which came into the world as the truth men die for, has now 
become the truth upon which they live, with family and steady promo- 
tion — "Rejoice then in life while thy springtime lasts." 26 

Otherwise everybody must be able to see that official Christianity is 
not the Christianity of the New Testament, does not resemble it any 
more than the square resembles the circle, no more than enjoyment 
resembles suffering, or loving oneself resembles hating oneself, or desir- 
ing the world resembles renouncing the world, being at home in the 
world resembles being a stranger and a pilgrim in the world, or going 
to business, to a dance, or a wooing, resembles following Christ — not 
a bit more; the Christian battalions which "Christendom" places in 
the field no more resemble what the New Testament understands by 
Christians than did the recruits which Falstaff enlisted 27 resemble able- 
bodied, well-trained soldiers eager for battle; they cannot be more truly 
said to strive in the direction of what the New Testament understands 
by a Christian than a man who is walking with even pace out through 
West Gate can be said to be striving out through West Gate; and what 
we call a teacher in Christianity (a priest) no more resembles what the 
New Testament understands by a teacher in Christianity, no more 
resembles it than a chest of drawers resembles a dancer, has no more 
relation to what the New Testament understands by a teacher's task 
than a chest of drawers has to dancing — with this I say nothing dis- 
paraging of the priest from a civil or human point of view, any more 
than I deny that a chest of drawers may be an exceedingly useful and 
serviceable piece of furniture; I only say that it has no relation to danc- 



What I write is certainly written without any hostile animus against 
the clergy. Why should I have such an animus? The clergy are of 
course to my notion (if only they don't have to be witnesses to the 
truth) just as capable, respectable, estimable a class in the community 
as any other class whatsoever. The theological candidate came into the 
picture bona fide — true, there is certainly something very amiss in the 
fact that he came in, but he came in bona fide. The responsibility prop- 
erly belongs to the State; if then Church and State become separated, 
it is plainly the duty of the State to take care of the priest with whom 
it has made a contract. What has the State to do dans cette galere? To 
arrange for iooo livings per conto the suffering truth, and to wish to 
give the divine its protection — both are equally preposterous. 

XV. The Fatherland, Thursday, April n, 1855 

Christianity with a government commission 


Christianity without a government commission 

April 8, 1855. S. Kierkegaard. 

In a little masterpiece by State Counselor Heiberg called "The Fair- 
ies" 28 the schoolmaster Grimmermann had, as everyone knows, the ex- 
perience of plunging down inadvertently 70,000 fathoms below the sur- 
face of the earth, and, still more unexpectedly if possible than his fall 
was inadvertent, he found himself surrounded by gnomes. "What non- 
sense," says Grimmermann, "there are no gnomes, and here is my com- 
mission [to prove it]." But, alas, to come to the gnomes with a royal 
commission is labor lost. What the devil do the gnomes care about a 
royal commission? Their kingdom is not of this world; obviously for 
them a royal commission = 0, at the very most it has the value of paper. 

I was led to think of this scene by Bishop Martensen's authoritative 
article against me a while ago. It was clear to me that what he was 
really boasting of against me (who, as he says, have only a "private 
Christianity") was. ..his royal commission, the fact that with him is to 
be found Christianity by royal commission. 

But to come, Christianly, to me and people of my sort with a royal 


commission is to come off no more successfully than did Grimmermann 
with his commission. 

A royal commission! But do not misunderstand me. There are few 
men who — in civil life — have the almost absolute respect for a royal 
commission that I have. I have often had to hear it said by my ac- 
quaintances that politically I was a nincompoop who bows seven times 
before everything that has a royal commission. 

On the other hand, when it is a question of Christianity, I understand 
the matter differently. By virtue of a royal commission — for surely a 
royal commission is something which is related to a kingdom of this 
world — to wish to have any authority whatever in relation to what 
concerns not merely a kingdom of another world, but a kingdom whose 
passion precisely is, come life come death, not to want to be a kingdom 
of this world — yes, this is still more droll than Grimmermann's appeal 
to his royal commission to impress the gnomes. 

Thus it is I understand the matter: precisely this — I repeat it — pre- 
cisely this fact — note it well, for, Christianly- considered, it is decisive 
for the whole ecclesiastical establishment; what the consequences of 
saying this possibly may be for me I shall have to put up with — 
precisely this fact that I have no royal commission is my legitimation, 
and Christianly, though always negatively, it is an immense advantage 
over having a royal commission. Grimmermann only makes himself 
ridiculous; but, Christianly, to appeal to one's royal commission is 
really to inform upon oneself as one who is unfaithful to the kingdom 
which would not at any price be a kingdom of this world, or as one 
whose Christianity is. ..playing Christianity. 

XVI. The Fatherland, Friday, April 27, 1855 

What a cruel punishment! 

April 25, 1855. S. Kierkegaard. 

Dean Bloch introduces the article he writes against me in No. 94 
of this newspaper by referring to another article written against me 
earlier in the same paper by an anonymous author, whose article Dean 
Bloch (an obsequious Basil) recognizes appreciatively in the strongest 
and most deferential terms as what might be called a "leading article." 
And there is something in that, for it leads astray, and it is natural 


therefore that it was anonymous, as a leading article under the present 
circumstances certainly could not be. 

However, Dean Bloch is by no means in complete agreement with 
the anonymous author; only for a short stretch can he follow the lead- 
ing article of the anonymous author; the Dean soon has to turn off and 
strike into another path. His article then becomes what one might call 
a thunder-leading article (a lightning conductor), if by that one does 
not think of leading the lightning away but of leading the thunder- 
storm down upon a man, upon poor me. 

If I do not reform, the Dean would have me punished ecclesiastically. 
And how? Indeed the punishment is cruelly devised; it is so cruel that 
I counsel the women to have their smelling salts at hand in order not to 
faint when they hear it. If I do not reform, the church door should be 
closed to me. Horrible! So then, if I do not reform, I should be shut 
out, excluded from hearing on Sundays during the quiet hours the 
eloquence of the witnesses to the truth, which if it is not literally un- 
bezahlbare, is yet priceless. And I, silly sheep, who can neither read 
nor write, and therefore, being thus excluded, must spiritually pine 
away, die of hunger, by being excluded from what can truly be called 
nourishing, seeing that it nourishes the priest and his family! And I 
should be excluded from the other services of divine worship which the 
royally authorized (but the fact that they are royally authorized is, 
Christianly, the scandalous part of it), spiritually-worldly entrepreneurs 
have arranged. Terrific! Terrific punishment, terrific Dean! Alas, where 
are ye now, my vanished poet-dreams? I dreamed that I was called 
Victor 29 — and the truth is that it is Dean Bloch who bears this name; 
what not even Bishop Martensen was capable of doing, Dean Bloch 
is capable of, he is able to tag me. 

However, it turns out so fortunately for me that whereas, for ex- 
ample, the punishment of compelling me several times every Sunday 
to hear the eloquence (if not unbezahlbare, at least priceless) of the 
witnesses to the truth would create disturbance in my customary mode 
of life, the application of that other punishment would not in the least 
alter a way of life which for Christian reasons I have chosen and to 
which during a considerable time I have already become accustomed. 
So if this punishment should be inflicted upon me, I shall live on with- 
out noticing it any more than I notice here in Copenhagen that in the 
distant town of Aarhus 30 a man is giving me a thrashing. Only I have 
one wish. If that is fulfilled, the infliction of this punishment will not 
cause even the very least change in my customary mode of life upon 


which I set such great store. The wish is that I may be permitted to 
continue without any change to pay the tithes (which we call priest's 
money), lest the altered form of the tax bill might cause me to notice 
the change. 

By way of a postscript 

Here I might conclude. But since Dean B. has cut such a great figure 
(perhaps with the feeling that he too is representative of the whole 
order), l shall nevertheless seize this opportunity of introducing a 
doubtful Christian query. Can one be a teacher of Christianity by royal 
authorization? Can Christianity (the Christianity of the New Testa- 
ment) be preached by teachers royally authorized? Can the sacraments 
be administered by them? or does not this imply a self-contradiction? 
By ordination the priest is properly related to a kingdom which is not 
of this world, but having also royal authorization — ah, this "also," is 
it not an exceedingly questionable word, or do also and either /or come 
perhaps to the same thing? "Also" — does not a teacher of Christianity 
by being also royally authorized become something just as curious and 
remarkable as the thing they are making such a complaint about in 
the newspapers, that a Jewish priest (rabbi), by being also a Knight 
of Dannebrog, is assumed to be a professor of the Evangelical Christian 
religion? 31 But if such is the case, might it not end with the pipe play- 
ing another tune, so that it would not be a question of shutting the 
door on me, but it would be the priest who had to shut up the shop, 
or (recalling the thundering Dean) the firecracker booth? 

Allow me moreover — for I see from Dean B.'s article that it is neces- 
sary — to quote again a Scripture text which I have quoted before. It 
is Christ's own word: "When the Son of Man cometh, shall He find 
faith on the earth?" So then, Christ conceives of a possibility that at His 
coming again the situation might be such that Christianity does not 
exist at all. And it is also implied in this word that Christ conceived 
more particularly of this apostasy from Christianity as due to craftiness 
and knavery; He does not seem to expect that the situation would be 
such that there was no one who called himself a Christian; He does 
not ask whether the Son of Man will find any Christians. What if He 
had conceived it thus: there will be found millions of Christians, Chris- 
tian states and countries, a Christian world, thousands of mercantile 
priests — but faith (what He understands by faith), will that be found 
on earth? The apostasy from Christianity will not come about openly 


by everybody renouncing Christianity; no, but slyly, cunningly, knav- 
ishly, by everybody assuming the name of being Christian, thinking 
that in this way all were most securely secured against—Christianity, 
the Christianity of the New Testament, which people are afraid of, 
and therefore industrial priests have invented under the name of Chris- 
tianity a sweetmeat which has a delicious taste, for which men hand 
out their money with delight. 

Finally, a word to thee, O thou who with some interest for thine own 
sake readest what I write. Let me urge upon thee one thing: read my 
articles often, and impress upon thy mind especially the Scripture texts, 
so that thou hast them by heart. What I bring forward is precisely what 
it is the priest's interest to hide, suppress, tone down, leave out. If then 
thou hast no other information about what Christianity is than at the 
very most what thou dost get by hearing the priest, thou canst be pretty 
sure of living on in complete ignorance of what does not suit the con- 
venience of official Christianity. It is in that state they propose to de- 
liver thee over at death to the accounting of eternity, where doubtless 
it will serve for thy excuse that others more especially bear the guilt, 
but where nevertheless it remains thy responsibility whether thou hast 
not taken the thing too light-mindedly, by believing too light-mind- 
edly the priest, perhaps just for the reason that he has royal authoriza- 

XVII. The Fatherland, Thursday, May 10, 1855 

A result 

April 23. S. Kierkegaard. 

By a series of articles in this newspaper I have now, as they say in 
military language, opened and maintained a lively fire against the 
official Christianity, and thereby against the clergy in this land. 

And on their side, what have the clergy done? For their part — yea, 
though I am unwilling to be so courteous, I am compelled to say it, 
for it is true — they have preserved a significant silence. It is strange: 
if they had replied, something exceedingly fatuous was sure to come 
out, perhaps the whole thing would have been fatuous; now on the 
contrary, how significant the whole thing has become by reason of this 
significant silence! 


What then does this significant silence signify ? It signifies that what 
concerns the clergy is...their livings. In any case it signifies that the 
clergy are not witnesses to the truth, for in that case it would be in- 
conceivable that the whole clerical order — especially after its chief, the 
Most Reverend Bishop Martensen had made such a luckless attempt at 
speaking — could want to preserve silence, while it was so openly made 
known that the official Christianity is aesthetically and intellectually a 
laughingstock, an indecency, in the Christian sense a scandal. 

Assuming on the other hand that the living is what concerns the 
clergy, the silence is perfectly natural. For I have not taken aim at liv- 
ings in a finite sense, and well known as I am to the clergy, they can 
be very sure that such a thing could never occur to me; they know that 
not only am I no politician, but that I hate politics, that indeed I might 
be inclined to fight for the clergy, if in a finite sense people want to 
assail the livings. 

Hence this complete silence — my attack has not really concerned the 
clergy at all, that is, it has no relation to what does concern them. Take 
an example from — I had almost used the wrong expression and said, 
"another world" — take an example then from the same world. ..from 
the shopkeeper's world. If it were possible to attack a shopkeeper in 
such a way that people knew that his wares were bad — but this did not 
result in having the least effect upon his usual turnover : then he would 
say, "To me such an attack is perfectly indifferent; for the question 
whether my wares are good or bad does not in and for itself concern 
me at all, what concerns me is the turnover. Yes, I am to such a degree 
a shopkeeper that, if one could prove not only that the coffee I sell is 
mildewed, spoiled, but that what I sell under the name of coffee is not 
coffee at all — if I am assured that this attack will have no effect what- 
ever upon the turnover, such an attack is to me perfectly indifferent. 
What does it matter to me what sort of stuff people guzzle under the 
name of coffee ? What concerns me is the turnover." 

And in this the shopkeeper, qua shopkeeper, is in the right — and so 
too with their silence are the clergy, if the clergy are regarded as a 
mercantile class. 

What was it I protested against a while ago? Did I protest against 
regarding the clergy as a mercantile class? No, I have protested against 
the fact that they want to be regarded as witnesses to the truth. By 
the assertion that they are witnesses to the truth the clergy are put at 
the furthest possible remove from being witnesses to the truth, least 
of all social classes are they witnesses to the truth. 


A German author has said that the most honest class in the com- 
munity are the shopkeepers, because they say plainly that it is profit they 
are after. I would propose a rather more complete scale of measurement : 
the most honest are the usurers, for they say plainly: Here you are 
cheated. Next to them come the shopkeepers, and last would come the 
fantasy-production by Bishop Martensen, "The Witnesses to the Truth." 
It was against Bishop Martensen's fantastical imaginations I protested. 
I did not give the question this turn: The clergy must be obliged to 
be witnesses to the truth. No, I gave it this turn : This signboard must 
be taken down. For example, it would occasion great confusion and 
disorder, nay, in many cases even serious harm, if one person or another 
were to take a fancy to put over his door the sign : Practicing Physician, 
or were to hang out a red light. Social order must require all these 
signboards to be taken away. And so it is with having a signboard out 
as a Practicing Witness to the truth. This is as though calculated to 
prevent the introduction of even the least bit of truth into the world; 
for people will say, "Where there are iooo witnesses to the truth, it 
must indeed be a world of truth" — sure enough, if precisely these iooo 
signboards were not the most dangerous falsehood in of 
truth. Let them then take this sign down. That the clergy should have a 
signboard hanging out is indeed perfectly natural, only not as witnesses 
to the truth. 

And that they are not witnesses to the truth is now, by evidence close 
at hand, made visible to anyone who is willing to see. Assuming that 
what I say is true — if the clergy had been witnesses to the truth, they 
would not have kept silent but declared themselves for the truth. As- 
suming that what I say is false — if the clergy had been witnesses to 
the truth, they would not have kept silent but declared themselves 
against this falsehood. Putting it the other way — if the clergy had been 
witnesses to the truth, the one thing they would not have done is 
precisely what they have done: they would not by silence try to slink 
away from any truth (assuming that what I say is true), or by silence 
let any falsehood prevail (assuming that what I say is false). 


May 6. 

In order to make the contemporaries take notice, and in order to 
preclude the clergy from the evasion that this was something nobody 
read, I have made use of a political journal with a wide circulation. 


In covenant with God as I am, disinterested as all my effort was— 
humbly before God, with a proud feeling of my own integrity, I dare 
to entertain the greatest conception of the cause I have the honor to 
serve, of its importance, of its success, though I must to be sure entertain 
the greatest conception of its difficulty. For what well could be more 
difficult, more desperate, than to have to introduce the ideals in a genera- 
tion which is ruined by shrewdness and lack of principle, in which 
therefore the priests too (it is a pitiful way to earn money!) live off 
of the vain conceit that all are Christians, or, when one looks more 
closely, may be said (most pitiful way of all to earn money!) to live off 
of the fact that most people do not want to have the bother or to expose 
themselves to the legal inconvenience which might be connected with 
the admission that they neither are Christians nor imagine that they are. 

This has now been attained: that the population is aware of the pro- 
test against the assumption that official Christianity is the Christianity of 
the New Testament, and that the population is aware of the objection 
raised against accounting the "priest" a "witness to the truth," seeing 
that what concerns him is the...turnover. 

This ought to be brought to public attention in such a form that 
no one could say, This is something nobody has read — for this reason 
I made use of a political journal with a wide circulation. 

XVIII. The Fatherland, Thursday, May 10, 1855 

A monologue 

. . . After all, Stundenstrup 32 is clearly in the right about the Town 
Hall, that it is a very handsome building, and that for the song at which 
these "honest men" are willing to dispose of it, it is the most brilliant 
transaction that can well be imagined. This must be conceded by his 
paternal uncle at the town of Thy, by all the kindred in Sailing, and 
by all shrewd men wherever they are. 

What Stundenstrup neglected to consider was whether these honest 
men stood in such a relation to the Town Hall that they were able to 
dispose of it. If not, then the price, if it were only four shillings and 
sixpence, would be very dear...for the Town Hall. So then, cheapness 
is not to be extolled unconditionally, it has its limits : if one does not get 
the thing one buys for an incredibly low price, the price is not cheap 
but very dear. 


So it is with Christianity. That an eternal blessedness is an inestimable 
good, far more considerable than the Town Hall, and if it can be bought 
for the song at which the priests dispose of it, it may be considered a 
far, far, far more brilliant transaction than that of Stundenstrup's in 
buying the Town Hall — that I am willing to concede. 

The only difficulty I feel is whether the priests stand in such a relation 
to the blessedness of eternity that they are able to dispose of it. For if 
not, then, though it were only four shillings sixpence, it is an enormous 

The New Testament defines the terms for blessedness. Compared 
with the New Testament price — but I confess that expressions fail me 
to indicate to what degree, in comparison with the New Testament, 
the priest's price is cheap, a regular selling-out price. But, as I have 
said, does the priest stand in such a relation to the blessedness of eternity 
that he can dispose of it, and you buy it of him? 

For if the priest does not stand in such a relation to the blessedness 
of eternity that he is able to dispose of it, as in fact he does not, since 
he is not our Lord; and if the priest's Christianity, the official Christi- 
anity, is not the Christianity of the New Testament, resembling it no 
more than a square resembles a circle, what good does it do me that his 
prices are cheap ? As for winning an eternal blessedness by buying from 
him, I get no nearer to it, not the least bit; so what I attain by buying 
from him is (if one would put it that way) to perform a good work 
of a sort, that is, to contribute my mite to the end that iooo university 
graduates may be able to live each with a family. 

May 6. S. Kierkegaard. 

XIX. The Fatherland, Friday, May 15, 1855 

About a silly assumption of importance over against 
me and the view of Christianity I stand for 

Though I regard this self-importance as so silly that not the least 
attention ought to be paid to it, yet for the sake of the many it is best 
perhaps for me to say a word about it once for all. 

That I, a laureate in theology like others, and what is more, a pretty 
old hand at authorship, so that I am at least on a par with the parsons — 
that I should not know just as well as any priest or professor in the 


land what is commonly said in defense of the Establishment and its 
Christianity — that really is a silly asumption. 

The fact is that in works under my own name or that of pseudonyms 
I have treated and described fundamentally, as I always do, the various 
stages through which I passed before reaching the point where I now 
am. So in those books more especially which are ascribed to the pseudo- 
nym Johannes Climacus 33 one will find pretty much all that can be said 
in defense of that sort of Christianity which is rather closely akin to 
that of the Established Church, and will find it described in such a 
way that I should like to see if there is any contemporary in our land 
who can do it better. 

How silly then to inculcate in a lecturing tone and with great as- 
sumption of importance over against me the thing that I have finished 
and left behind me in order to get further forward in the direction 
(if I may so speak) of discovering the Christianity of the New Testa- 
ment! Do not misunderstand me: I do not find it silly for one to hold 
that view of Christianity which I, after I had made it known, left be- 
hind me; but I find it silly for a man to want to inculcate that over 
against me in a lecturing tone and with great assumption of importance, 
to want to talk of my lack of acumen in not being able to see — to see 
that very thing which one will find presented in my works, with cer- 
tainly as much acumen as the person in question who says this to my 
face is able to do it. 

To name one exponent of this silly assumption of importance I 
will mention Dr. Zeuthen. 3 * He has, it appears, established himself in 
the Evangelical Weekly and now inculcates from time to time in an 
instructive manner and with great assumption of importance what he 
might have read, e.g. in the Concluding Postscript. But this is in- 
culcated for my instruction by Dr. Z., who thus implies that he is in 
possession of the acumen which he expressly says is lacking in me. It 
is a modest kind of pleasure he gets out of this — and yet in another 
sense it is neither modest nor humble, as Dr. Z. himself must know 
better than anyone, since in the role of an author, as everybody knows, 
he has devoted himself principally to the subject of modesty and humil- 
ity, but of course without being guilty of any one-sidedness, such, for 
example, as the notion that theory and practice ought to correspond. 

This was the word I wanted to say. One can read my works. He who 
does not want to do so can leave them alone. But really I do not care 
to go through the lesson over again with everyone who wants to in- 
culcate, and for my instruction at that! what I have fully discussed. 


Only one thing more, since I have my pen in hand. The fact that 
by this sort of Christianity which Bishop Mynster and now Bishop 
Martensen represent one can readily beguile oneself and thereupon 
make a brilliant career in this world which is the inventor of it — that 
I admit, I have never had any doubt of it. If anyone can furnish me 
with a communication from the other world, and if it is to the effect 
that this sort of Christianity is recognized there as the Christianity of 
the New Testament, then I am fighting a phantom and am a fool. 
But then there still remains One whom I take with me (in my dis- 
repute), 35 God in heaven, whose word indeed is the New Testament; 
for if the report from the other world is as I have assumed it to be, 
then God, the God of truth, is the greatest liar of us all. 

April 1855. 

I wrote these lines towards the end of April. But, thought I, there 
is no haste about having them printed — perhaps there may come an 
additional incentive to print them. 

It did not fail to come. For as I see now, that the Dr. Bartolo of the 
Evangelical Weekly (i.e. Zeuthen) has found his grateful Basil, 36 an 
anonymous writer in the Copenhagen Post who would disarm me with 
the scattered remarks of Dr. Zeuthen which are interspersed in various 
articles, to which I have not replied. In this, as in every untruth, there 
is some truth. The truth is that I have passed over in silence Dr. Z.'s 
scattered remarks. This truth, and the circumstance that Dr. Zeuthen's 
utterances are found in a weekly which surely is read only by theo- 
logians, is used to produce a fantastic effect, as though what Dr. Z. ex- 
pounds were something very important. Perhaps it may be possible to 
succeed in fooling somebody in this way. 

With the anonymous writer in the Copenhagen Post I shall deal no 
further. But let me take this opportunity to recall how the case truly 
stands with me and my appearance in a daily paper. I am not a com- 
pletely unknown person who writes a newspaper article and then ought 
to submit to the necessity of discussing things on perfectly equal terms 
with every chap who writes. No, the question here is about a matter 
which in one sense was finished in a whole literature of important 
works, to which works of mine I refer those who really are interested. 
It was for religious reasons I decided to use a widely circulated political 
journal — to make people take notice. This I have religiously under- 
stood as my duty, and I do it also with joy, even though it is very dis- 
tasteful to me. But, humbly before God, with a proud consciousness of 


my right, which I dare and ought to have, I shall guard myself well 
against too much chumminess with everyone who writes some sort of 
a thing in a newspaper. 

May 13, '55. S. Kierkegaard. 

XX. The Fatherland, Thursday, May 16, 1855 

With regard to the new edition of Training 
in Christianity* 1 

I have let this book come out in a new edition without any altera- 
tion because I regard it as a historic document. 

If now it were for the first time to come out, now when the considera- 
tion of piety towards the old bishop no longer applies, and when I am 
convinced (partly by letting this book come out the first time) that 
the Establishment is, Christianly, indefensible, it would have been al- 
tered in the following respects : 

It would not have been by a pseudonym but by me; and the thrice- 
repeated Preface would have been omitted, and of course also the Moral 
to Part I, where the pseudonym gives a turn to the matter such as I 
had sanctioned in the Preface. 

My earlier thought was: if the Establishment can be defended at all, 
this is the only way, namely, by pronouncing a judgment upon it poeti- 
cally (therefore by a pseudonym), thus drawing upon "grace" raised 
to the second power, in the sense that Christianity would not be for- 
giveness merely for what is past, but by grace would be a sort of dis- 
pensation from following Christ in the proper sense and from the 
effort properly connected with being a Christian. In that way truth 
would enter into the Establishment after all: it defends itself by con- 
demning itself; it acknowledges the Christian requirement, makes for 
its own part an admission of its distance from the requirement and that 
it is not even an effort in the direction of coming closer to it, but has 
recourse to grace "also with respect to the use one makes of grace." 38 

This to my thinking was the only means of defending, Christianly, 
the Establishment; and to avoid any sort of hasty action I ventured to 
give the matter this turn, in order to see what the old Bishop would do 
about it. If there was power in him, he must do one of two things: 


either declare himself decisively for the book, venture to go with it, 
let it count as the defense which would ward off the accusation against 
the whole official Christianity which the book implies poetically, affirm- 
ing that it is an optical illusion, "not worth a sour herring"; or attack 
it as decisively as possible, brand it as a blasphemous and profane at- 
tempt, and declare that the official Christianity is the true Christianity. 
He did neither of the two, he did nothing; and it became clear to me 
that he was impotent. 

Now on the other hand I am clear within myself about two things: 
that the Establishment is, Christianly, indefensible and every day that 
it endures is a crime; and that one is not permitted to draw upon grace 
in that way. 

Therefore take away the pseudonymity, take away the thrice-repeated 
Preface and the Moral; then Training in Christianity is, Christianly, 
an attack upon the Establishment; but for a consideration of piety to- 
wards the old bishop, and because of prudential slowness, this remained 
hidden under the form of...the last defense for the Establishment. 

Moreover I know very well that the old bishop saw in the book an 
attack; but, as I have said, he impotently chose to do nothing, except 
at the most to condemn it in the drawing-room, but not even in private 
conversation with me, and that in spite of the fact that I begged him 
to do so after it was reported to me with his consent what judgment 
he passed upon it in the drawing-room. 

April 1855. S. Kierkegaard. 



S. Kierkegaard 


Published by C. A. Reitzel's Estate and Heirs 

Bianco Luno's Press 


[Issued on May 16] 

"But at midnight there is cry." 
Matthew 25:6. 


December 1854. 

This has to be said; I oblige no one to act accordingly, I have no 
authority to do so. But having heard it, thou art made responsible, 
and now must act upon thine own responsibility, in such a way that 
thou canst justify thine action before God. Perhaps one will hear it in 
such a way that he does what I say; another in such a way that he un- 
derstands it as well-pleasing to God and thinks he does God a service 
by taking part in raising a cry against me. Which of the two matters 
not to me, to me it matters only that it has to be said. 

This has to be said; so be it now said. 

Whoever thou art, whatever in other respects thy life may be, my 
friend, by ceasing to ta\e part (if ordinarily thou dost) in the public 
worship of God, as it now is (with the claim that it is the Christianity 
of the New Testament), thou hast constantly one guilt the less, and that 
a great one: thou dost not ta\e part in treating God as a fool by calling 
that the Christianity of the New Testament which is not the Christianity 
of the New Testament. 

Herewith — Yea, O God, let that now come to pass which thy will is, 
infinite Love! — herewith I have spoken. If an ambiguous shrewdness 
which in its own mind knows best what the situation really is should 
think it shrewdest, if possible, to act as if nothing had happened — never- 
theless I have spoken...and the Establishment has perhaps lost; for one 
can also lose by keeping silent, especially when the situation is, as it is, 
that not a few know more or less clearly what I know, only that no 
one will say it; for when such is the case, one thing only is needed, a 
sacrifice, one person to say it — and now it is said. 

May 1855. 

Yes, such is the fact: the official worship of God (with the claim of 
being the Christianity of the New Testament) is, Christianly, a counter- 
feit, a forgery. 

But thou, thou plain Christian, on the average thou hast no suspicion, 
art entirely bona fide, confiding in the conviction that everything is all 
right, that it is the Christianity of the New Testament. This forgery 
is so deeply ingrained that doubtless there even are priests who con- 


tinue to live on in the vain conceit that everything is all right, that it 
is the Christianity of the New Testament. For really this forgery is the 
counterfeit which came about in the course of centuries, whereby little 
by little Christianity has become exactly the opposite of what it is in 
the New Testament. 

So I repeat. This has to be said : by ceasing to take part in the official 
worship of God as it now is (if in fact thou dost take part in it) thou 
hast one guilt the less, and that a great one : thou dost not take part in 
treating God as a fool. 

It is a path full of dangers along which thou goest towards the reck- 
oning of eternity. The priest says pretty much the same thing; but there 
is one item he forgets to mention and to warn against: the danger of 
letting thyself be caught, or that thou art caught, in the monstrous illu- 
sion the State and the priest brought about, making men believe that 
this is Christianity. Therefore wake up, be on thy guard, lest thou 
mightest think to secure eternity for thyself by taking part in what is 
only a new sin. Wake up, look out! Whoever thou art, this much thou 
canst perceive, that he who is here speaking does not speak in order to 
earn money, for rather he pays money out; nor to win honor and 
prestige, for he has voluntarily exposed himself to the opposite. But if 
such is the case, then thou canst also understand that this means that 
thou shouldst take notice. 


From the Journal 


I had reflected that, if a catastrophic effect were to be produced, I must 
come out, after the most complete silence, unexpectedly with "the Cry" 
that our public worship is mockery of God and to take part in it is a 
crime. But before I was yet quite clear about this there was something else 
I did, namely, bring out the article about Mynster against Martensen. By 
that the catastrophic effect was already weakened. Besides when I consider 
that "Cry" I see that, as I have planned it, it needs an accompanying sheet, 
but this accompanying sheet would again weaken the catastrophic effect. 
Then I have great misgiving with regard to myself, whether — if the 
thing should be attained — I am up to going to prison, to being if possible 
executed, whether all this sort of combat would not upset me so that I 
should be unable to perform my part. However, in any case this must be 
left to God. 

It must be gone about in this way. One must begin by showing that the 
thing is so serious that all learned strife is a childish prank. One must 
therefore require of the Establishment, require of it in the name of Chris- 
tianity, that it employ the means it possesses to protect itself. So one must 
oneself demand that the case be brought to trial. 

XI2 A 263, 265 


April 9, 1855. 

Just as carefully as it has been hidden hitherto what my task might be, just as cau- 
tiously as I have remained in impenetrable obscurity with respect to my purpose, just so 
decisively shall I now, when the instant has arrived, make it known. 

The question about what Christianity is, and therewith in turn the question about the 
State Church, or the National Church, as they now want to call it, the amalgamation or 
union of Church and State, shall be brought to the most definite decision. It cannot and 
shall not go on from year to year as it did under the old bishop [who might be supposed 
to say], "It will last anyway as long as I live," nor as the new one seems to want it to 
do by understanding our age as a great period of transition, which in plain language 
comes to the same thing as, "It will last anyway as long as I live." 

To be so sorely taxed as I am and must continue to be is certainly not a thing which, 
humanly speaking, one could call desirable, though in a far deeper sense I must thank 
divine governance for it as for the greatest benefaction. To be so sorely taxed as the 
contemporary age must be if the matter is to be taken in hand decisively, is, as I can 
understand very well, a thing which, humanly speaking, no one can desire, a thing 
which one would wish at almost any price to avoid, if one does not learn to be uplifted 
by the thought that the decisive thing is in a far deeper sense the most beneficial. It is 
my firm conviction that it could have been avoided, that the decision could have been 
postponed for a generation, if the deceased bishop had not been what he was, if his 
whole relation to me had not been from year to year a more revolting untruth. It is my 
opinion that it perhaps might have been avoided if the present bungler (with such a 
business as I have in hand one employs the true word, like a natural scientist in his 
descriptions; there is no place here for compliments) had not cut such a dash [literally: 
struck so hard] that by the necessity of contradiction I must carry the thing to the utmost 
extreme. In any case, now it has been determined: the case, the question, shall be pressed 
to the last conclusion. 

The only thing I could wish to learn as soon as possible is whether the Government is 
of the opinion that Christianity (at least what calls itself Christianity — and in parenthesis 
be it remarked that, if it wishes the help of Government, it betrays the fact that it is 
not the Christianity of ,the New Testament) should be defended by the use of judicial 
power or should not. 

Do not misunderstand me, as though it were my thought that, if this was the opinion 
of the Government, I then would be willing to keep my mouth shut, go around by 
another street. By no means. Doubtless for a man in my state of health, when by reason 
of an unfortunate physical weakness one needs exercise in a very special degree, it may 
be a very serious thing, a thing one must shrink from, the thought of arrest, etc. But I 
dare not give way; a higher power compels me, one which bestows power, it is true, but 
also will be unconditionally obeyed, unconditionally, blindly, as a soldier obeys the word 
of command, if possible with the involuntary precision with which the cavalry horse 
obeys the signal. 

Do not misunderstand me either in another sense, as though in any way it were my 
intention, if on the part of the Government measures were taken against me, then if 
possible by the aid of a popular movement to try to make a counter demonstration. By 
no means. I am so far from this that I understand it as my task to ward off such a thing 
as well as I can, I who never have had anything to do with popular movements but 
have been kept pure in the separateness of "the single individual," purer if possible than 
the purest virgin in Denmark. 

I only wished to learn whether my task will be to arm myself with patience and peace 
of mind in the prospect of trial, arrest, etc., or whether the Government is of the opinion 
that Christianity must defend itself, and that 1000 priests with family over against liter- 
ally one single man may be regarded as having sufficient physical power, an almost 


inhuman disproportion, so that the State ought rather (for I never can forget the joke, 
even when I am talking of the greatest decision of my life) to give me the aid of several 
policemen against these 1000 priests, forbid them to act against me en masse, apprehend 
some of the worst twaddlers and when they are guilty for the third time prosecute them 
for twaddle, contributing in that way to insure that the question of spirit (and Chris- 
tianity is surely spirit) would be so far as possible decided by spirit. 

It cannot escape the vigilant eye of the Cultus Minister that I do not in the remotest 
degree infringe upon any civil institution whatsoever, and indeed a man who literally 
stands alone can never become a physical power. I pay the Church tithes like everybody 
else, I exhort everyone to whom my words have any weight to behave as I do, and I am 
firmly resolved to have no dealings with any man of whom I learn that in a civil sense 
he gives the priests even the very least annoyance. It is, Christianly, a galimatias in 
which we live; but this is not something the present-day priests have brought about; no, 
it goes far back in time. We are all of us to blame, and all of us deserve punishment; but 
really that would after all be a very gracious punishment to be let off with the obligation 
to support the actual garrison of priests we now have. 39 


April 11, 1855. 

In torments such as seldom a man has experienced, in spiritual exertions which in the 
course of a week would deprive another man of his senses, it is true that I am also a 
power — undeniably a seductive conviction for a poor man, if the torment and exertion 
did not predominate to such a degree that often enough my wish is death, my longing 
the grave, and my request that my wish and my longing might soon be fulfilled. Yea, O 
God, if Thou wert not omnipotence which is able omnipotently to compel, and if Thou 
wert not love which is able irresistibly to move, on no other terms, at no other price, 
could it for one second occur to me to choose that life which is mine, and which is 
further embittered by what for me is unescapable, the impression I must get of men, 
and not least of their mistaken admiration. Every creature is at its best in its own 
element, can properly only live in its element, the fish cannot live on the land, nor the 
bird in the water — and to require spirit to live in the environment of spiritlessness means 
death, means to die slowly in agony, so that death is a blessed relief. Yet thy love, O 
God, moves me, the thought of daring to love Thee prompts me (under the possibility of 
being almightily compelled) with joy and gratitude to will to be what is the conse- 
quence of being loved by Thee and loving Thee: to be a sacrifice, sacrificed on behalf of 
a generation for which ideals are nonsense, are naught, for which the earthly and the 
temporal are seriousness, a generation which worldly shrewdness in the form of Chris- 
tian teachers has shamefully, in a Christian sense, demoralized. 

XXI. The Fatherland, Saturday, May 26, 1855 

That Bishop Martensen's silence is, Christianly, (1) 

unjustifiable, (2) comical, (3) dumb-clever, (4) in 

more than one respect contemptible 

(1) That, Christianly, it is inexcusable. It is the duty of a Christian, 
as an Apostle also enjoins, to be always ready to give answer concern- 
ing the hope that is in him, that is, concerning his Christianity. And 
how reasonable that is. A Christian, the lover and votary of the truth, 
ought he not always to be willing to give a good account of himself 
and the views which he holds, always ready to witness to truth and 
against falsehood, abhorring most of all the thought of hiding himself 
from anything or anybody ? And now a Christian bishop, and the chief 
bishop of the land! The chief bishop of the land — it is to him the com- 
munity looks, from him it expects guidance, upon him it relies to wit- 
ness against falsehood and declare himself for the truth. 

But how does this chief bishop of the land comport himself? Pretty 
much like the boys on New Year's Eve, who when they see their chance 
seize the opportunity to throw a pot at people's doors, and then make 
off, around by another street, so that the police may not catch them. 
Thus Bishop Martensen thought he saw his chance in the big rumpus 
occasioned by my article about Bishop Mynster, and threw over my 
head a garbage-pail of abuse and coarse words — and then made off. 
From that instant he preserved the profoundest silence, in spite of the 
fact that the thing only began to be really serious after that time; for 
with every subsequent article in the Fatherland it has become far more 
serious than was the question whether I really had been too impertinent 
to a deceased person. 

But Bishop Martensen preserves the profoundest silence. And that 
in spite of the fact that he had been challenged to express his view. 40 
Not only did he not reply to this challenge, but there came out in the 
Berlin News an anonymous article counseling him against answering 
this challenge. 

And this (which recalls Leporello's line: "I answer not, whoever it 
may be" 41 ), this we are asked to regard as justifiable in a witness to 
the truth, a Christian bishop, the highest in the land, upon whom the 
community can depend! No, such a silence is, Christianly, unjustifiable; 
and such a pitiful exhibition is, Christianly, far worse than if the Bishop 
had taken to drink. 


(2) It is comical. Wherever the comical is, there is also, as one of my 
pseudonyms teaches, 42 a contradiction. So it is now with silence. Silence 
may have many various qualities in the direction of good or of evil, 
but silence is comical when it has the confounding quality that it- 
speaks. This is comical — a silence which speaks, speaks in a loud voice 
and says what it conceals in a tone which everyone can hear, says 
precisely what one wants to hide by means of silence, as when the 
Countess Orsini says to Marinelli, 43 "I want to whisper something to 
you," and thereupon shouts in a loud voice what she wanted to say, so 
does this silence shout in a loud voice what it conceals. Like making 
oneself invisible by putting a white stick in the mouth, whereby noth- 
ing more is attained than to make the white stick also visible — so does 
this silence shout louder than the most solemn declaration of the Bishop : 
it says clearly, "I am in a fix." It shouts so clearly that it can be heard 
not only by men of superior understanding, but that the people, the 
plain man, can understand it; and it shouts so loud that it can be heard 
in a neighboring kingdom. 44 

(3) It is dumb-clever. It is not simply dumb; no, it is dumb by want- 
ing to be clever, dumb-clever. It is as when there is something a teacher 
doesn't know — which may perfectly well occur — and he then does not 
himself say straightforwardly, "I don't know it," but shrewdly wants 
to make as if he knew it, and the pupils then quietly take it upon them- 
selves to subtract from his reputation the amount they infer from this. 
Presumably this shrewdness is thought to be so clever, but nevertheless 
it is dumb, for with every day Bishop Martensen maintains silence 
people quiedy subtract from his reputation. Even if a silence has not 
the fatal characteristic of betraying what it conceals, yet to be able 
to hold out requires a reputation acquired and maintained through 
many years, when it is not an entirely unimportant person who is the 
opponent. And here it is a beginner in the episcopate, a beginner who 
began as lucklessly as did Bishop Martensen with his talk in the Berlin 
News; and the opponent is from an intellectual and literary point of 
view at least equally qualified, except that I have not the, Christianly, 
comic qualification of being Privy Counselor and earning many thou- 
sands in wages. 

No, this silence is dumb-clever. This even those can see who have 
not the true measure of what this silence signifies. 

For Bishop Martensen and I are, as they say, not entirely unac- 
quainted. For many years there has been literarily a difference between 
us. 45 But as long as the old bishop lived, who was definitely such a 


friend of quietness, I was watchful on my part {also out of piety to- 
wards a deceased father) that the thing might pass off quietly. It passed 
off quite quietly in the affair of the System, 46 where Bishop Martensen 
did not pull the longest straw. I did not want to attack him by name — 
and Bishop Martensen preserved silence. Even when he who might 
well be regarded by Bishop Martensen as the most dangerous person 
to say it, that is, when Professor Nielsen gave him to understand in 
print 47 that my pseudonym had disposed of him, which then the next 
most dangerous person to say it, namely, Dr. Stilling, in print 48 gave 
him to understand again, what subsequently has been said to him in 
print very straightforwardly 49 — Bishop Martensen preserved silence. 

Then he thought I had put my foot in it by talking about Bishop 
Mynster, that the feeling was hostile to me, and one saw from his article 
how eager he was to overwhelm me with coarse language, how eager 
he was to speak, if only he thought he could come out best. 

And so again he wants to assume silence! Indeed, as a dumb-clever 
silence, this silence deserves to be called the Martensian silence, in dis- 
tinction from the silence of Brutus and of William of Orange. 

(4) It is in more than one respect contemptible. I will only stress two 
points. When one is a man, it is contemptible not to behave like a man, 
not to face danger manfully, to win or to lose decisively, but to try to 
slink from it. And this is doubly contemptible when one allows oneself 
to be paid by the State for assuming a position of rule, and perhaps 
apart from that has a tendency to play the role of ruler. 

And this silence is contemptible because it is as though calculated to 
mean various things according to the outcome. 

Worldly wisdom teaches that one "should never have anything to do 
with a phenomenon." 50 And I am to be classed under the category of a 
phenomenon: I am in fact one of those incommensurables who have 
not standardized their effort for a government post, etc. 

So one keeps silent. If it proves that the phenomenon forces his way 
through — why, good gracious, one has said nothing, one's silence was 
respect, or perhaps "Christian resignation," which is the word Professor 
Nielsen unfortunately played into Martensen's hand, 51 without taking 
the precaution to have Bishop Martensen at least recant his abuse, for 
otherwise it is a queer sort of Christian resignation which keeps silent 
after having poured out all the abuse, such a resignation is pretty much 
like the repentance for theft which retains the stolen property. — If on 
the contrary it proves that the phenomenon does not force his way 
through — well, then one's silence was superiority, which so long as the 


outcome is critical one tries one's best to make it appear, in order to 
weaken the phenomenon. 

How contemptible such a silence is, which instead of acting resolutely 
wants to await the outcome in order to give a false coloring to one's 

S. Kierkegaard. 


This, religiously, is a case I have to prosecute; therefore I must do 
what I am doing, whether personally it is agreeable to me or repugnant. 

I understand very well that when one at such an early age as Bishop 
Martensen 52 has (yea, when I think of the New Testament and the 
oath made upon it, it is highly satirical!) been so fortunate (!) as to 
make a glittering (!) career (!), I understand very well that one may 
wish for rest (but the Christianity of the New Testament is precisely 
unrest) in order to enjoy (but the Christianity of the New Testament 
means to suffer) these earthly goods: the rich revenues, the considera- 
tion in the community, the agreeable feeling of having an influence 
upon the welfare of many men. I understand also very well (and in one 
sense this is no disparagement of Bishop Martensen) that Bishop Mar- 
tensen could not wish to be so audacious as to declare publicly in his 
own name and as Bishop that the official Christianity is the Christianity 
of the New Testament or even merely an effort in that direction, and 
that therefore he might come to the conclusion (for indeed he first made 
what for silence was a very luckless attempt at speaking) that for him 
silence was the only way out or the only shift. But it does not follow 
from this that I have to keep silent to this silence, or to what, although 
impotently, yet perhaps insolently, it aims to bring about, namely, that 
a man who by divine governance was very early singled out and slowly 
educated for a particular work (and this is my case), a man who with 
a disinterestedness, exertion and diligence which in our situation is al- 
most unique has only wished one thing 53 — that such a man (perhaps 
also as a reward for uprightly renouncing the things which are Chris- 
tianly questionable, like profit, rank, titles, decorations, etc.) might come 
to be regarded as a sort of ranter whom the higher clergy did not think 
it worthwhile to answer, so that the plain man, relying upon the higher 
clergy might think himself justified in thinking that what this ranter 
says is twaddle (though what he says is Christianly perhaps the most 
thoroughly justified protest that ever was made), a notion to which 


someone already has tried to give currency. This was in the Daily 
Sheet, an anonymous writer 54 — presumably a pastor of souls! True, 
he was himself kind enough to concede to me "great talents," but for 
all that he came out with it that to the plain man what I said appeared 
to be twaddle. O honest, upright, conscientious care for souls! Say that 
the plain man says order to get him to say it! I however am of 
a different opinion, I who after all have perhaps some acquaintance too 
with the plain man. For is it not true, thou plain man, that thou art 
very well able to understand this ? My notion is that precisely thou art 
able to understand it much more easily and better than demoralized 
priests and a depraved gentility. It is true I am sure that thou canst 
perfectly well understand that it is one thing to be persecuted, mal- 
treated, scourged, crucified, beheaded, etc., another thing when comfort- 
ably settled, with family, and steadily promoted, to live off the descrip- 
tion of how another was scourged, etc. But this also is a difference be- 
tween the Christianity of the New Testament and the official Chris- 

If now, as by the prompting of Professor Nielsen's article, there should 
come out here again in the Berlin Neu/s anonymous articles, perhaps 
even from Norway, counseling Bishop Martensen against letting him- 
self in for it, surely the populace will gradually understand what such 
a thing signifies and will be obliged to Bishop Martensen for the con- 
tribution he makes to the public entertainment by means of anonymous 
articles which counsel him against letting himself in for it. Or should 
Bishop Martensen (as I hear is the case with individual priests here in 
the city) prefer to say one thing or another in a church — then it is not 
my fault if it should come to the pass that people laugh aloud in church; 
for regarded from the comical side this line of action is an exceedingly 
valuable contribution to the understanding of what "the witnesses to 
the truth" mean by "witnessing." 

Do not misunderstand me, as though it were my notion with this 
that I am here writing, to wish to provoke Bishop Martensen to a dis- 
cussion, thinking that we should learn from it something very important 
and instructive. By no means. In this respect I am essentially through 
with Bishop Martensen and know well what there is in him. Not that; 
but Bishop Martensen is in fact the chief bishop, it is owing to him I 
succeeded in getting in a blow at this thing about "witnesses to the 
truth" — and, as I have said, religiously regarded, this is a case I have 
to prosecute, and therefore it is my duty to take advantage of everything 


that turns up, to make it visible, so that everyone who will see can see: 
(i) what these witnesses to the truth really are, that what concerns 
them is not the truth, but to produce or maintain an appearance; (2) 
what miserable expedients they employ, wherefore it surely will also 
end in failure; (3) that the question about the Established Church is 
not a religious but a financial question, that what keeps up the Estab- 
lishment is the 1000 royally authorized teachers, who standing to the 
Establishment in the relation of shareholders, quite rightly are silent 
about what I talk of, for I have no power to take from them their in- 
comes; (4) what good reason and right that man has to be tranquil and 
unconcerned who in the matter of eternal blessedness relies upon "the 
witnesses to the truth." 

Finally, what was so desirable for the cause (and so desirable that I 
hardly dared to expect it, and was fully prepared to see that from the 
very beginning Bishop Martensen would keep silent) — that has been 
attained. The thing was to get Bishop Martensen to speak, if only for 
once, in ord^r that whosoever is willing to see might have a measure 
of what power he has when it comes to a pinch. Then the thing was 
to force him if possible back into silence. That was done. Let him 
then go on playing with silence. When one knows what his speech 
signifies, one knows also what his silence signifies. By his silence he 
succeeded perhaps, yet hardly, in fooling himself, but not anyone who 
is willing to see — and that is what he fairly deserves. 






in the order in which they were published 



The Instant, No. i, May 24 77 

An Extra 89 

The Instant, No. 2, June 4 93 

What Christ's Judgment Is about 

Official Christianity 115 

The Instant, No. 3, June 27 125 

The Instant, No. 4, July 7 137 

The Instant, No. 5, July 27 155 

The Instant, No. 6, August 23 179 

The Instant, No. 7, August 30 199 

The U nchangeableness of God 233 

The Instant, No. 8, September 11 237 

The Instant, No. 9, September 24 257 

The Instant, No. 10 [The manuscript was ready when 

on October 2 S. K. was taken to the hospital] 273 

Although the first number of the Instant is dated May 24, it was not published until 
after the last article in the Fatherland. 

The dates printed in brackets before particular articles in the Instant are found only 
in the rough draft. 

No. 1 


i. Prelude. 

2. About "This has to be said" — or how is a decisive 

effect to be produced? 

3. Is it justifiable on the part of the State — the Chris- 

tian State! — to make, if possible, Christianity 
impossible ? 

4. "Take an emetic!" 

May 24, 1855. S. Kierkegaard. 


Published by C. A. Reitzel's Estate and Heirs 

Bianco Luno's Press 

From the Journal 


If the absolute is to be introduced — and this age excels to the most 
dreadful degree in taking up everything characterlessly "to a certain degree" 
— prudence requires one not to do what commonly one would preferably 
desire to do, both for one's own sake and for the sake of others, before 
making the decisive attack, that is, to go to the rulers and say it to them, 
in order to see if possibly they might not yield a little. No, one cannot do 
this because — well, the misfortune is precisely this, that one cannot be sure, 
however strongly one might express oneself, that they would not take it up 
"to a certain degree," and so one would have bungled one's task of intro- 
ducing the absolute. No, like the spring of the wild beast, or like the 
swift blow of the bird of prey, so it is the absolute must be introduced, 
especially in the face of this characterless "to a certain degree." 

XI 1 A 526 


[April 20.] 

lato says in a well-known passage in his Republic 1 that something 


good can result only if those men come into positions of rule who 
have no liking for it. His meaning doubtless is, that ability being as- 
sumed, unwillingness to rule is a good guarantee that a man will rule 
truly and ably, whereas an ambitious man may only too easily become 
one who abuses his power to tyrannize, or one whom a liking for rule 
brings into an obscure dependence upon those over whom he is sup- 
posed to rule, so that his rule becomes an illusion. 

This remark may also be applied to other situations where something 
really serious has to be done. Ability being assumed, it is best that the 
person in question should have no liking for the task. For doubtless it 
is true, as the proverb says, that liking makes the work go swiftly, but 
real seriousness only appears when a man with ability is compelled by 
a higher power against his liking to undertake the work — so it stands 
with ability opposed to liking. 

To be a writer — well, yes, that does delight me; if I must be honest, 
I may say that I have been in love with writing — but, mind you, in the 
way I like to do it. What I have loved is exactly the opposite of working 
in the instant, what I have loved is the detachment in which, like a 
lover, I can dangle after the thoughts, and like an enamoured musician 
toying with his instrument I can wheedle out the expressions exactly 
as thought requires them — blissful pastime! in an eternity I could not 
become tired of this occupation! 

To contend with men — well, yes, that does delight me in a certain 
sense. I am by nature so polemically constituted that I only feel myself 
really in my element when I am surrounded by human mediocrity and 
paltriness. Only on one condition, however, that I be permitted silently 
to despise, to satiate the passion which is in my soul, contempt, for 
which my life as an author has richly provided me with occasions. 

So I am a man of whom it may be truly said that I have not the 
least liking for working in the instant — and presumably it is precisely 
for this reason I am selected for it. 

If I am to work in the instant, I must, alas, bid farewell to thee, be- 
loved detachment, where there was no need to hurry, always plenty of 
time, where I could wait hours, days, weeks, to find exactly the ex- 
pression I wanted, whereas now I must break with all such cherished 
aims of love. And if I am to work in the instant, there will be a great 


many people to whom I owe it that at least from time to time I make 
reference to all the trifling things about which mediocrity with great 
self-importance orates in an instructive tone, all the galimatias it gets 
out of what I write by first putting it therein, all the lies and slander a 
man is exposed to against whom the two great powers of society, envy 
and stupidity, must by a certain necessity be united in conspiracy. 

Why then am I willing to work in the instant ? I am willing to do it 
because I should eternally regret having left it undone; and if I were to 
allow myself to be frightened away from it, I should eternally regret that 
the generation now living would find the true presentation of Chris- 
tianity interesting and curious at the very most, so as to remain where 
they are, in the vain conceit that they are Christians and that the play- 
Christianity of the priests is Christianity. 

About "This has to be said" — or how is a decisive 
effect to be produced *? 

The protest I have made against the Established Church is decisive. 
If now some one would say, as I am prepared to hear even my most 
kindly critic say, "But the protest is so frightfully decisive!" I might 
say in reply, "It cannot be otherwise"; or I might answer with a word 
of one of my pseudonyms 2 : "When the castle door of inwardness has 
long been shut and finally is opened, it does not move noiselessly like 
an apartment door which swings on hinges." 

However, I can explain myself also more precisely. To produce a 
decisive effect — and this is the task now — is not a thing that can be done 
like everything else; and now especially when the misfortune of our 
age is precisely this motto, "to a certain degree," going in for things to 
a certain degree, when precisely this is the disease which has to be cured, 
one must above all take care if possible that it does not come to pass 
that only to a certain degree one goes into this matter — for with that 
all is lost. No, a decisive effect is produced in a different way from 
other things. Like the spring of a wild beast upon its prey, like the blow 
of the eagle in its swoop — so it is that the decisive effect is produced: 
suddenly, concentrated upon one point (intensive). And as the beast 
of prey unites shrewdness and strength : first it remains perfectly quiet, 
quiet as no tame beast can be, and then collects itself wholly in one 
spring or blow, as no tame beast can collect itself or can raise itself for 
a spring — so is the decisive effect produced. First quietness, so quiet as 
it never is on a still day, quiet as it is only before the thunder — and then 
the storm breaks loose. 

Thus it is the decisive effect is produced. And believe me, I know 
only too well the defect of this age, that it is characterlessness, every- 
thing to a certain degree. But as "a mirrorbright shield of polished 
steel," 3 so bright that "when the sun's rays fall upon it they are reflected 
with a double splendor," as such a shield fears most of all even the very 
least touch of stain, since even with the least stain it is not itself, so does 
the decisive purpose fear every contact of or with this thing of "to a 
certain degree." That I understand. Should not I understand it who 
am known to all, even to the children in the street, by the name of 

For what is either/or, if I am to say it, who surely must know? 
Either/or is the word before which the folding doors fly open and the 
ideals appear — O blissful sight! Either/or is the token which insures 


entrance into the unconditional — God be praised! Yea, either/or is the 
key to heaven! On the other hand, what is, was, and continues to be 
man's misfortune? It is this "to a certain degree," the invention of 
Satan or of paltriness or of cowardly shrewdness, which being applied 
to Christianity (by a preposterous miracle, or with miraculous preposter- 
ousness) transforms it into twaddle! No: Either/or! And as it is on the 
stage, that however tenderly the actor and actress embrace one another 
and caress one another, this remains nevertheless only a theatrical 
union, a theater-marriage; so also in relation to the unconditional all 
this thing of "to a certain degree" is theatrical, it grasps an illusion; 
only either/or is the embrace which grasps the unconditional. And to 
speak about something it never could occur to me to talk about except 
in contrast to what follows, to speak about life's vain pleasantries, I 
remark that just as every officer who belongs to the King's personal en- 
tourage bears a sign (a mark of distinction) whereby he is recognized, 4 
so were all those who truly have served Christianity marked by either/or, 
an impression of majesty, or an expression of the fact that they stand 
in relation to the Divine Majesty. Everything which is only to a certain 
degree has not served Christianity, but perhaps itself, and can never 
honestly demand any other mark of distinction than at the most (as 
on a letter to frank it) "In the King's Service" 5 ; for what is in God's 
service is either /or. 

Is it justifiable on the part of the State — the Christian 
State ! — to make, if possible, Christianity impossible 4 ? 

The question itself certainly stands in no need of any explanation as 
a preliminary to answering it. Everyone surely must say for himself 
that this cannot be justified. 

So what needs to be explained is that what the State has done and is 
doing is, if possible, to make Christianity impossible. For the factual 
situation in our land is, that Christianity, the Christianity of the New 
Testament, not merely does not exist, but, if possible, is made impossible. 

Suppose that the State employed iooo officials who with their families 
lived by opposing and hindering Christianity, and so were pecuniarily 
interested in doing it — that indeed would be an attempt in the direction 
of making Christianity, if possible, impossible. 

And yet this attempt (which after all has the advantage of openness, 
that it openly proposed to hinder Christianity) would not be nearly 
so dangerous as what actually occurs, that the State employs iooo of- 
ficials who, under the name of preaching Christianity (here precisely 
lies the great danger, in comparison with wishing quite openly to hinder 
Christianity), are pecuniarily interested in: (a) having men call them- 
selves Christians (the bigger the flock of sheep the better), assume the 
name of being Christians; and (b) in having it stop there, so that they 
do not learn to know what Christianity truly is. 

The existence of these iooo officials amounts to this, that when you 
hold up alongside of them the New Testament, it is easily seen that 
their whole existence is an impropriety. If on the one hand people did 
not assume the name of Christians, the priests would have nothing to 
live on; but if on the other hand they were obliged to preach what 
Christianity truly is, this would be the same thing as to open men's 
eyes to the fact that the very existence of the priest is an impropriety, 
that even though the teacher of Christianity gets something to live on, 
yet to be a priest cannot be...a royal appointment, a career, and steady 

And this, this consequence, does not come about in the name of hin- 
dering Christianity, it is not with this in view the iooo officials with 
family are paid; no, it comes about under the name of preaching Chris- 
tianity, spreading Christianity, laboring for Christianity. Between too 
little and too much, which are said to spoil the broth, between this too 
little, that men do not assume the name of Christian, and this too much, 
that they might learn to know what Christianity truly is, and might 


really become Christians, between these two is balanced, with the seri- 
ousness of a tight-rope dancer, the official, state-churchly, or national- 
churchly Christianity of "Christendom," which does to be sure produce, 
in comparison with the New Testament, astonishing results. ..Christians 
by the millions, all of the same quality. 

Is not this then about the most dangerous thing that could be thought 
of in order, if possible, to make Christianity impossible? The "priest" 
is pecuniarily interested in having people call themselves Christians, 
for every such person is in fact (through the State as intermediary) a 
contributing member, and at the same time contributes to the power of 
the clerical order — but nothing is more dangerous to true Christianity, 
nothing more contrary to its nature, than to get men to assume light- 
mindedly the name of Christian, to teach them to think meanly of what 
it is to be a Christian, as if it were something one is as a matter of 
course. And the "priest" is pecuniarily interested in having it stop there, 
with the assumption of the name of Christian, and that men should not 
learn to know what Christianity truly is, for with that the whole ma- 
chinery with the 1000 officials and state power to back them would go 
up in the air. But nothing is more dangerous to true Christianity, noth- 
ing more contrary to its nature, than this criminal abortion which 
causes the thing to stop there, with the assumption of the name of being 
a Christian. 

And this is supposed to be laboring for Christianity, spreading it 
abroad, working for it! 

There is to me something so abhorrent and shocking even in the 
thought of such a sort of divine worship, which worships God by taking 
Him for a fool, that I shall endeavor with all my might, as far as I am 
able, to ward this off, and to open the eyes of the populace to the true 
situation, so that they may be prevented from becoming guilty of a 
crime in which really the State and the priests have implicated them. 
For however frivolous and sensual the populace may be, there is never- 
theless too much good in the people for them to want to worship God 
in that way. 

Therefore let light be cast on the subject, let it be made clear to men 
what the New Testament understands by being a Christian, so that 
everyone can choose whether he will be a Christian, or whether, hon- 
estly, uprightly, frankly, he will not be one. And let it be said in a loud 
voice before the whole people that to God in heaven it is infinitely dearer 
that they honestly admit, as the condition precedent to becoming Chris- 
tians, that they are not and will not be Christians. This is infinitely 


dearer to Him than this loathsome notion that to worship God is to take 
Him for a fool. 

Yea, thus it must be done: light must be cast upon the darkness in 
which the subject is kept by the State or National Church. Instead of 
having an absolute respect for what the New Testament understands 
by being a Christian, and then putting to oneself the question how 
many Christians there may be in the land, people give a different turn 
to it and say, There are a million men in the land, ergo a million Chris- 
tians — and so they employ 1000 officials to live off of this. And then a 
step further: they invert the argument and infer that if there are 1000 
officials who have to live off of Christianity (and that is what we have 
now), then there must also be a million Christians; we must stick to it 
stoutly that there are a million Christians, for otherwise we cannot 
assure all these officials of a livelihood. 

So then there are 1000 officials who live off of it, with a family, ergo 
there must be a million Christians. The preaching of Christianity there- 
fore corresponds to this (to this very peculiar sort of a fix into which 
men have brought themselves) : to work for Christianity becomes, as 
I have said, to get people to assume the name of Christian, and at the 
same time to make it stop there, and that is what I call, "if possible, to 
make Christianity impossible," whereby in turn (to repeat myself) the 
people become guilty of a crime they otherwise would be free from, that 
of taking God for a fool under the name of worshiping Him, which 
I (who to be sure have had little thanks for loving men) will neverthe- 
less strive in every way to avert. 

I see very clearly that if the matter is taken up in the way I have in- 
dicated, there must emerge a very serious question, in an earthly and 
temporal sense, about the sustenance of these officials; for just as people 
talk about castles in the moon, so have these parties a vested interest 
in a chimera...a million Christians; and when it comes to this I am 
the most accommodating person in the world, eager to help, and as far 
as possible from wanting to take part in the annoyances the priests 
may have from other quarters, from certain politicians. It was just in 
order to be able to get at the question that I had to get that thing Bishop 
Martensen began to cook up about being a witness to the truth — I had 
to get that blown away as it were. Before everything else this disgusting 
rubbish had to be disposed of. Now — let us be good-tempered about 
it! — now we can talk rationally about what in a simple human sense 
is a very serious matter. And that way of talking is, I think, the most 
advantageous to us all. The sort of priests we have would certainly 


do best not to strike up the tune of wanting to be witnesses to the truth; 
for, if they do — well then, the difficult problem is solved with infinite 
ease: one has only to withdraw their whole stipend and save the ex- 
pense of pensions. Witnesses to the truth must know how to put up 
with that sort of thing; and the idea about witnesses to the truth, that 
the priests are witnesses to the truth, if it had not come from a bishop 
(and was therefore stupid and offensive), but from a shrewd states- 
man, from a cultus minister, for example, who wanted to get rid of 
the clergy in an adroit way, would have been a very clever idea. 

"Take an Emetic!" 

[April 27.] 

Doubtless there are a number of people upon whom my articles in 
the Fatherland have made an impression. Perhaps their situation is 
pretty much like this : they have become attentive, or at least they have 
begun to reflect whether the whole matter of religion is not in a pitiable 
state; but on the other hand there is so much that inclines them not to 
give themselves up to such thoughts, they love the customary order of 
things, which they are very loath to let go. 

So their situation is pretty much like that of a man who has a bad 
taste in the mouth, a coated tongue, a little shivering fit, and so the 
physician tells him to take an emetic. 

And so say I too: Take an emetic, come out of this lukewarmness. 

Think then first for an instant of what Christianity is, what it re- 
quires of a man, what sacrifices it demands, and what sacrifices also 
have been made for it, so that (as one reads in the stories) even "delicate 
maidens" (who did not, like our maidens, fill up their time by ques- 
tioning whether they should wear light-blue or coquelicot at the theater) 
did not shrink back but, commending their souls to God, valiantly sur- 
rendered their "tender bodies" to the cruel executioner. Think first 
for an instant of this. And then make it clear to yourself, perfectly clear 
and vivid, the thought — gulp down the dose, however disgusting it is — 
of living in such a way that it is supposed to be Christian worship when 
in a quiet hour a man dramatically, costumed steps forward and with 
dismay depicted by his face, with smothered sobs, proclaims that there 
is an eternal accounting, an eternal accounting before which we are 
going to appear — and then that we are living in such a way that out- 
side the quiet hour to disregard even one or another conventional con- 
sideration, not to speak of one's advancement, one's earthly advantage, 
the favor of people of importance, etc., is regarded as something that 
could not possibly occur to anybody, and of course not to the declaimer; 
or, if somebody does it, this is punished by being regarded as a sort of 
madness — think of living in such a way, and that this is supposed to be 
Christian worship. Doesn't the emetic now have effect? 

Well, then, take another dose. Make it clear to yourself and perfectly 
vivid how loathsome it is to live in such a way that this is supposed to 
be Christian worship: that when the declaimer dies there steps forth 
a new declaimer in costume and from the pulpit describes the deceased 


as a witness to the truth, one of the genuine witnesses to the truth, one 
of the holy chain of witnesses. Does it not take effect? 

Well, then, take still another dose. Make it clear to yourself and per- 
fectly vivid how disgusting it is to live in such a way that when one 
man says, "No, a witness to the truth one certainly could not call the 
deceased declaimer," that then it is supposed to be Christian zeal, 
perpetually repeated, with the greatest possible diffusion, to pronounce 
upon this man the judgment that he defiles — do you hear that! — defiles 
a worthy man's memory, violates the peace of the grave — do you hear 
that! — he violates the peace of the grave, etc., etc. 

Surely it has taken effect now; and you'll be all right, the bad taste 
will disappear, i.e. you will have made up your mind that the whole 
thing is rotten, nauseating, yet nevertheless it could only begin to have 
the effect it ought to have when Bishop Martensen introduced the 
word "witness to the truth." 

So let it work, and after God thank Bishop Martensen for such an 
exceedingly efficacious emetic. 


From the Journal 


He who must apply a "corrective" must study accurately and pro- 
foundly the weak side of the Establishment, and then vigorously and one- 
sidedly present the opposite. Precisely in this consists the corrective, and in 
this too the resignation of him who has to apply it. The corrective will in 
a sense be sacrificed to the established order. 

If this is true, a presumably clever pate can reprove the corrective for 
being one-sided. Ye gods! Nothing is easier for him who applies the cor- 
rective than to supply the other side; but then it ceases to be the corrective 
and becomes the established order. 

BR p. 173 

From Pastor Boesen's conversations with S. K. in the 

Boesen. Would you have no change made in your utterances? They do 
not correspond to reality but are more severe. 

Kierkegaard. It has to be thus, otherwise it is of no avail. When the 
bomb explodes, I know well enough, it must be thus! Do you think I 
should tone it down, first speak to awaken, and then to tranquillize? Why 
do you want to disturb me in this way? 

In my work I have now got so near to the present, the instant, that 
I cannot do without an organ by means of which I can instantly address 
myself to the present time; and this I have called: 


Should anyone who is interested in this matter wish for his own con- 
venience to be well assured of getting what may come out, he can 
send his subscription to the publisher. But I reserve to myself in every 
respect the most absolute freedom — in no other way can I do it. 

I call it the Instant. Yet it is nothing ephemeral I have in mind, any 
more than it was anything ephemeral I had in mind before; no, it was 
and is something eternal: on the side of the ideals against the illusions. 
But in one sense I must say of my whole previous work, that its time 
has not yet come; I have stood remote, yea, even very remote from the 
present time, and only near in the sense that this remoteness was thor- 
oughly calculated and purposeful. Now, on the contrary, I must assure 
myself in every eventuality of being able to take advantage of the in- 

I do not seek to persuade anyone to subscribe, far rather I beg every- 
one at least to reflect before doing it. Eternally he will not regret having 
heeded my talk, but it would be possible that he might come to regret 
it temporally. I who am called "Either/Or" cannot be at the service 
of anybody with both-and. I have in my possession a book which doubt- 
less is all but unknown in this land, the title of which I will therefore 
cite in full: The New Testament of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. 
Although I stand in a perfectly free relation to this book, and am not, 
for example, bound to it by an oath, yet nevertheless this book exercises 
a great power over me, inspires me with an indescribable horror of 


No. 2 



To "my reader!" 


That the task has a double direction. 


The comfortable — and the concern for an eternal 


The human protects (its protege) the divine! 


A eulogy upon the human race, or a proof that the 
New Testament is no longer truth. 


We are all Christians. 


A difficulty about the New Testament. 


If we really are Christians — what then is God ? 


In case we really are Christians, the New Testa- 
ment is eo ipso no longer a guide for the Chris- 
tian, cannot be such. 


How lucky we are not all priests! 

June 4, 1855. S. Kierkegaard. 


Published by C. A. Reitzel's Estate and Heirs 

Bianco Luno's Press 

From the Journal 


In my presentation severity is a dialectical "moment" in Christianity; 
but leniency is just as strongly expressed; the former is represented by the 
poetical pseudonyms, the latter by me personally. Thus it is the age has 
need of it, for it has taken Christianity in vain. But it would be an 
entirely different thing if a desperate man had nothing else to say about 
Christianity than that it is the crudest self-torture. To put an end to 
coquetry I have had to apply severity — and have applied it precisely in 
order to give impetus to the resort to leniency. If I had only understood its 
frightful severity, I would have kept silent. 

I think I dare say of myself that I undoubtedly have at my disposal a 
profounder pathos in preaching the lenience of Christianity than anyone 
else has who preaches in our land. 

X 2 A 525, p. 378 

To "My Reader!" 6 

[April 27.] 

To thee whom I have called "my reader" I should like to say a few 

When a man ventures out so decisively as I have done, and upon a 
subject moreover which affects so profoundly the whole of life as does 
religion, it is to be expected of course that everything will be done to 
counteract his influence, also by misrepresenting, falsifying what he 
says, and at the same time his character will in every way be at the 
mercy of men who count that they have no duty towards him but that 
everything is allowable. 

Now, as things commonly go in this world, the person attacked 
usually gets busy at once to deal with every accusation, every falsifica- 
tion, every unfair statement, and in this way is occupied early and late 
in counteracting the attack. This I have no intention of doing. 

And it for this reason I would say a few words to thee, my reader, 
in order to put thee seriously in mind of something. That the person 
attacked is so dreadfully busy in defending himself — just think of it a 
moment; might not this generally be due to the fact that in a simple 
egotistic sense of the word he is interested in protecting himself, fear- 
ing that the falsification of what he says, and the bad reports about 
him personally would injure him in an earthly and temporal sense? 
And — just think of it a moment! — dost thou not believe that precisely 
in this situation the reason why most people come out publicly is that 
ultimately they have earthly and temporal ends in view and are there- 
fore so busy about justifying themselves against attack? Dost thou not 
believe that this disposition to bustle does harm also for the fact that 
it makes men disinclined to get at the truth of the matter for them- 
selves, to put themselves to any inconvenience, to make any vigorous 
effort, because nowadays in all situations there are no longer to be found 
teachers but only...lackeys? 

At all events, I propose to deal with the matter differently, I propose 
to go rather more slowly in counteracting all this falsification and mis- 
representation, all these lies and slanders, all this prate and twaddle. 
Partly because I learn from the New Testament that the occurrence of 
such things is a sign that one is on the right road, so that obviously I 
ought not to be exactly in a hurry to get rid of it, unless I wish as soon 
as possible to get on the wrong road. And partly because I learn from 
the New Testament that what may temporally may be called a vexa- 


tion, from which according to temporal concepts one might try to be 
delivered, is eternally of value, so that obviously I ought not to be ex- 
actly in a hurry to try to escape, if I do not wish to hoax myself with 
regard to the eternal. 

This is the way I understand it; and now I come to the consequence 
which ensues for thee. If thou really hast ever had an idea that I am 
in the service of something true — well then, occasionally there shall be 
done on my part what is necessary, but only what is strictly necessary 
to thee, in order that, if thou wilt exert thyself and pay due attention, 
thou shalt be able to withstand the falsifications and misrepresentations 
of what I say, and all the attacks upon my character — but thy indolence, 
dear reader, I will not encourage. If thou dost imagine that I am a 
lackey, thou hast never been my reader; if thou really art my reader, 
thou wilt understand that I regard it as my duty to thee that thou art 
put to some effort, if thou art not willing to have the falsifications and 
misrepresentations, the lies and slanders, wrest from thee the idea that 
I am in the service of something true. 

That the task has a double direction 

[May 17.] 

When Christianity came into the world the task was simply to 
proclaim Christianity. The same is the case wherever Christianity is 
introduced into a country the religion of which is not Christianity. 

In "Christendom" the situation is a different one. What we have 
before us is not Christianity but a prodigious illusion, and the people 
are not pagans but live in the blissful conceit that they are Christians. 
So if in this situation Christianity is to be introduced, first of all the 
illusion must be disposed of. But since this vain conceit, this illusion, 
is to the effect that they are Christians, it looks indeed as if introducing 
Christianity were taking Christianity away from men. Nevertheless 
this is the first thing to do, the illusion must go. 

This is the task; but the task has a double direction. 

It is in the direction of seeing what can be done by way of clarifying 
men's concepts, teaching them, moving them by means of the ideals, 
bringing them by pathos into a state of suffering, stirring them up by 
the gadfly-sting of irony, derision, sarcasm, etc., etc. 

There would be no further task, were it not that this illusion, the 
fact that men imagine they are Christians, is connected with an enor- 
mously big illusion which has a purely external side, the illusion that 
Christianity and State have been amalgamated, in the fact that the 
State introduces 1000 functionaries who by the instinct of self-preserva- 
tion have an interest in not letting men learn to know what Christianity 
is and that they in fact are not Christians. For the very existence of 
these priests is an untruth. Being completely, secularized and in the 
service of the State (royal functionaries, persons of social position, mak- 
ing a career), they obviously could not very well tell the congregation 
what Christianity is, for to say this would mean resigning their posts. 

Now this illusion is of a different sort from the first one mentioned, 
which had to do with men's conceptions, the ensnarement of the in- 
dividuals in the conceit that they were Christians. In the case of this 
latter illusion one must go to work in another fashion, for the State 
has the power to do away with it. This then is the other side of the 
task: to labor in the direction of getting the State to do away with it. 

If I were to liken this task to anything, I would say that it resembles 
the therapeutic treatment of a psychic patient. One must work on 
psychic lines, says the physician; but it does not follow from this that 
there may be nothing to do physically. 


From what is here set forth there ensues something I must urge 
upon the reader — and I hope he will bear with me if I do not do as 
authors commonly do, do not bow and scrape before the reader because 
I want his money and regard his judgment as the final judgment. 

What I would urge upon the reader is, that he will not confine him- 
self to reading the particular number of the Instant through, but as 
each number contains several articles, I urge him to make himself 
acquainted with the contents by a first cursory reading, and to read 
later each several article for itself. 

The comfortable — and the concern for an eternal 


[April ii.] 

It is these two things — one might almost be tempted to say, what 
the deuce have these two things to do with one another? — and yet it 
is these two things that official Christianity, or the State by the aid of 
official Christianity, has jumbled together, and done it as calmly as 
when at a party where the host wants to include everybody he jumbles 
many toasts in one. 

It seems that the reasoning of the State must have been as follows. 
Among the many various things which man needs on a civilized plane 
and which the State tries to provide for its citizens as cheaply and com- 
fortably as possible — among these very various things, like public 
security, water, illumination, roads, bridge-building, etc., etc., there 
is eternal blessedness in the hereafter, a requirement which 
the State ought also to satisfy (how generous of it!), and that in as 
cheap and comfortable a way as possible. Of course it will cost money, 
for without money one gets nothing in this world, not even a certificate 
of eternal blessedness in the other world; no, without money one gets 
nothing in this world. Yet all the same, what the State does, to the 
great advantage of the individual, is that one gets it from the State at 
a cheaper price than if the individual were to make some private ar- 
rangement, moreover it is more secure, and finally it is comfortable in 
a degree that only can be provided on a big scale. 

So, to introduce Christianity, first a complete count of the people is 
made, thereupon the whole population is inscribed in the tax list — 
exactly as it was when Christianity came into the world — and then 
iooo royal functionaries are appointed. "You, my dear subjects" — this 
might well be the thought of the State — "with respect also to the great 
and inestimable benefit of an eternal blessedness, ought to have every- 
thing as convenient, as comfortable and as cheap as possible. With water 
on every floor, instead of the bitter toil, as in the old days, of dragging 
it up stairs, one cannot have things more convenient than you shall have 
them with respect to an eternal blessedness in the hereafter (in pursuit 
of which in the uncivilized ages of ignorance men ran to the ends of 
the world, and on their knees); if you but whistle, it will be at your 
service, yea, before you whistle; you shall not have to go up and down 
stairs, good gracious, no, it will be brought to your house — as beer is 


nowadays 7 — by royally authorized waiters, who surely will prove them- 
selves diligent and attentive, for this is their livelihood, whereas the 
price is after all so cheap that this cheapness exposes the shamelessness 
of Catholicism [which exacts so much more]. 

Far be it from me to speak disparagingly of the comfortable! Let it 
be applied wherever it can be applied, in relation to everything which 
is in such a sense a thing that this thing can be possessed irrespective 
of the way in which it is possessed, so that one can have it either in this 
way or in the other; for when such is the case, the convenient and com- 
fortable way is undeniably to be preferred. Take water for example: 
water is a thing which can be procured in the difficult way of fetching 
it up from the pump, but it can also be procured in the convenient way 
of high pressure; naturally I prefer the more convenient way. 

But the eternal is not a thing which can be had regardless of the 
way in which it is acquired; no, the eternal is not really a thing, but is 
the way in which it is acquired. The eternal is acquired in one way, 
and the eternal is different from everything else precisely for the fact 
that it can be acquired only in one single way; conversely, what can be 
acquired in only one way is the eternal — it is acquired only in one way, 
in the difficult way which Christ indicated by the words: "Narrow is 
the gate and straitened the way, that leadeth unto life, and few are 
they that find it." 

That was bad news! The comfortable — precisely the thing in which 
our age excels — absolutely cannot be applied with respect to. eternal 
blessedness. When, for example, the thing you are required to do is to 
walk, it is no use at all to make the most astonishing inventions in the 
way of the easiest carriages and to want to convey yourself in these 
when the task prescribed to you was. ..walking. And if the eternal is 
the way in which it is acquired, it doesn't do any good to want to alter 
this way, however admirably, in the direction of comfort; for the eternal 
is acquired only in the difficult way, is not acquired indifferently both 
in the easy and in the difficult way, but is the way in which it is ac- 
quired, and this way is the difficult one. 

Thanks be to you, ye Government Clerks, ye Counselors of Chancery, 
Counselors of Justice, Counselors of State, and Privy Counselors, thanks 
for the enormous amount of scribbling ye have had to do to arrange for 
His Majesty's subjects all and sundry in a cheap and comfortable way 
the attainment of an eternal blessedness; thanks be to you, ye clerical 
counselors; truly ye have not done it for naught, for ye have your per- 


centage; yet after all it is no more than reasonable that ye should be 
thanked. Thanks to you all and sundry — if only it is certain that the 
subjects become blessed, and is not rather true that a certificate from 
"the State" is a most inauspicious recommendation in the hereafter, 
where the judgment depends upon whether you have belonged to that 
kingdom which would not at any price be a kingdom of this world. 

The human protects (its protege) the divine! 


It is easy enough to understand that this thing of the human protect- 
ing the divine is an abracadabra. How in the world could a notion like 
this occur to such a sensible being as the State? 

Well, it's a long story; but principally it is due to the fact that in the 
course of time Christianity came to have less and less men who served 
it with an appreciation of what it is — the divine. 

Imagine a statesman who lived at the time when Christianity came 
into the world, and say to him, "Quid tibi vedetur, don't you think that 
this would be the religion for the State?" Presumably he would regard 
you as mad, would hardly condescend to make a reply. 

But when Christianity is served by human fear, by mediocrity, by 
temporal interests — yes, then it makes a rather different appearance, 
then it really may seem as if Christianity (which with that sort of serv- 
ice had gradually become spavined, knock-kneed, and lame in the 
shoulder, a pitiful "critter") might be exceedingly glad to be protected 
by the State and thus brought to honor. 8 

In view of this, the responsibility lies with the clergy, who have made 
a fool of the State, put into its head the notion that here was something 
for the State to do — which may end with the State having to pay the 
piper because it got too highfalutin. For though it is certainly not too 
high for the State to patronize that sort of thing which people made 
out Christianity to be, yet as soon as it becomes again what it is, the 
State seems foolishly highfalutin, and may well wish for its own sake 
to get down to earth again, the sooner the better. 

This thing of Christianity being protected by the State is like a fairy 
tale or a story : A king, dressed as a common man, lives in a provincial 
town, and the Burgomaster is so kind as to wish to patronize this 
burgher — then suddenly there comes an emissary who with a deep bow 
and then on bended knee addresses this burgher as "Your Majesty." 
If the Burgomaster is a sensible man, he sees that, though well-mean- 
ingly, he was too highfalutin in patronizing this burgher. 

Imagine — not what has been talked about so much that it has almost 
become trivial, that Christ returned to the earth — no, imagine that one 
of the Apostles were to return. He would shudder at seeing Chris- 
tianity patronized by the State. Imagine him approaching Christianity 
so deeply degraded, and bowing low before it — the most narrow-minded 
statesman would see that he had got in wrong by wanting to treat 


Christianity as a protege, that it is a shocking mistake to confuse the 
fact that the priests want the protection of the State with the notion 
that this is wanted by Christianity, which, if it had any want whatever, 
would want to be rid of such priests, who do not know how to bow 
before Christianity (for to it one bows by willingness to offer sacrifices, 
to suffer for the doctrine), but only know how to bow before the King, 
to do homage on receiving a rank equivalent to that of Counselor of 
State, or for being made a Knight of Dannebrog, etc., which is faith- 
lessness on the part of one who in the character of a teacher of Chris- 
tianity is bound by an oath upon the New Testament, it is faithlessness 
to the New Testament. 9 For there Christianity teaches: "Fear God, 
honor the King." A Christian ought to be if possible His Majesty's best 
subject. But, Christianly, the King is not the prerogative authority, he 
is and can and must and will not be the prerogative authority in rela- 
tion to a kingdom which is not willing at any price to be of this world, 
come life, come death, will not be of this world. Faithfulness to the oath 
upon the New Testament would therefore help one to avert that which 
a man, precisely if he loves the King, must wish to avert, that His 
Majesty be put in a wrong light. With its lofty divine seriousness 
Christianity has always maintained the seriousness of the kingly power; 
it is only the detestable play at being Christian which, being treasonable 
to the New Testament, was also treasonable to the King by presenting 
him in a light which is prejudicial to the dignity and seriousness of the 
kingly power. 

The moment will therefore surely come when a king will rise in 
his seat and say, "Now I see it; these rascally priests, this is what they 
have brought me to, the last thing I wanted to become — to become 
ridiculous. For, by my royal honor, I know, if anybody does, what the 
King's majesty means, and I know also what I have in my power : gold 
and goods and rank and dignity and all badges of honor, yea, even 
kingdoms and lands I can bestow, I who above other kings have crowns 
to dispose of. But what now is Christianity? Christianity is the re- 
nunciation of all this, Christianity is not merely not to pursue such 
aims; no, it is not being willing at any price to accept them if they are 
offered, to shun them with greater dread than the earthly mind shuns 
misery and sufferings, to shun them more passionately than the earthly 
mind aspires after them. How in the world did I fall into such madness, 
thinking that with gold and goods and titles and dignities and stars and 
badges of honor I could patronize...that which shuns all such things 
more than the pest? I am indeed ridiculous! And who is at fault for it? 


Who but these rascally priests that have transformed Christianity into 
the very opposite of what it was in the New Testament, and thereby 
put the idea into my head that I could patronize Christianity! Fool 
that I am! For what is it I have patronized? Verily not Christianity, 
which for all its lowliness is more lofty than I, but it is a lot of rascals 
who precisely for this cause are the least deserving of my protection." 

A eulogy upon the human race 


a proof that the New Testament is no longer truth 

In the New Testament the Saviour of the world, our Lord Jesus 
Christ, represents the situation thus: The way that leadeth unto life is 
straitened, the gate narrow — few be they that find it! 

now, on the contrary, to speak only of Denmark, we are all 

Christians, the way is as broad as it possibly can be, the broadest in 
Denmark, since it is the way in which we all are walking, besides being 
in all respects as convenient, as comfortable, as possible; and the gate 
is as wide as it possibly can be, wider surely a gate cannot be than that 
through which we all are going en masse. 

Ergo the New Testament is no longer truth. 

All honor to the human race! But Thou, O Saviour of the world, 
Thou didst entertain too lowly a notion of the human race, failing to 
foresee the sublime heights to which, perfectible as it is, it can attain by 
an effort steadily pursued! 

To that degree therefore the New Testament is no longer truth : the 
way the broadest, the gate the widest, and all of us Christians. Yea, I 
venture to go a step further — it inspires me with enthusiasm, for this 
you must remember is a eulogy upon the human race — I venture to 
maintain that, on the average, the Jews who dwell among us are to a 
certain degree Christians, Christians like all the others — to that degree 
we are all Christians, in that degree is the New Testament no longer 

And since it is in point here to look for whatever contributes to the 
glorification of the human race, one ought, though taking care not to 
come out with anything untrue, to be careful also not to overlook any- 
thing which in this respect is demonstrative proof or even suggestive. 
I venture therefore to go a step further, without expressing, however, 
any definite opinion, seeing that in this respect I lack precise informa- 
tion, and hence submit to persons well informed, the specialists, the 
question whether among the domestic animals, the nobler ones, the 
horse, the dog, the cow, there might not be visible some Christian 
token. That is not unlikely. Just think what it means to live in a Chris- 
tian state, a Christian nation, where everything is Christian, and we 
are all Christians, where, however a man twists and turns, he sees 
nothing but Christianity and Christendom, the truth and witnesses to 


the truth — it is not unlikely that this may have an influence upon the 
nobler domestic animals, and thereby in turn upon that which, ac- 
cording to the judgment of both the veterinary and the priest, is the 
most important thing, namely, the progeny. Jacob's cunning device is 
well known, how in order to get speckled lambs he laid speckled rods 
in the watering troughs, so that the ewes saw nothing but speckles 
and therefore gave birth to speckled lambs. It is not unlikely — although 
I do not presume to have any definite opinion, as I am not a specialist, 
and therefore would rather submit the question to a committee com- 
posed, for example, of veterinaries and priests — it is not unlikely that 
it will end with domestic animals in "Christendom" bringing into the 
world a Christian progeny. 

I am almost dizzy at the thought; but then, on the greatest possible 
scale — to the honor of the human race — will the New Testament be no 
longer truth. 

Thou Saviour of the world, Thou didst anxiously exclaim, "When I 
come again, shall I find faith on the earth?" and then didst bow Thy 
head in death; Thou surely didst not have the least idea that in such a 
measure Thine expectations would be surpassed, that the human race in 
such a pretty and touching way would make the New Testament un- 
truth and Thine importance almost doubtful. For can such good beings 
truthfully be said to need, or ever to have needed, a saviour ? 

We are all Christians 

That we are all Christians is something so generally known and 
assumed that it needs no proof but may even be about to work its way 
up from being a historical truth to becoming an axiom, one of the 
eternal intuitive principles with which the babe is now born, so that 
with Christianity there may be said to have come about a change in 
man, that in "Christendom" a babe is born with one intuitive principle 
more than a human being has outside of Christendom, the principle 
that we are all Christians. 

For all that, it never can do any harm to make it clear to ourselves 
over and over again to what degree it is certain and true that we are 
all Christians. 

Here is an attempt of mine; and I flatter myself that it really does 
make clear to what a degree we are all of us Christians. We are Chris- 
tians to such a degree that, if among us there lived a Freethinker who 
in the strongest terms declared that the whole of Christianity is a lie, 
item in the strongest terms declared that he was not a Christian — there 
is no help for him, he is a Christian; according to the law he may be 
punished, that is a different thing, but a Christian he is. "What stuff 
and nonsense!" says the State. "What would this lead to? If once we 
allowed a man to declare that he is not a Christian, it soon would come 
to pass that all would deny that they were Christians. No, principiis 
obsta, 10 and let us hold fast to principles. We now have everything well 
tabulated, all under proper headings, everything perfectly correct — 
under the assumption of course that we are all Christians — ergo he too 
is a Christian. Such a conceit, which merely wants to be eccentric, one 
must not humor, and that's the end of it." 

If he dies. ..and leaves behind him so much that the man of God (the 
priest), the undertaker man, and several other men, could each get his 
share — then all his protests are of no use, he is sl Christian and is buried 
as a Christian — to that degree it is certain that we all are Christians. 
If he leaves nothing (for a little is no help: the priest, who as a Christian 
is always easily contented, is content with little if there is no more), 
but if he leaves literally nothing — that would be the only case in which 
his protests might be taken into account, since by being dead he would 
be prevented from defraying the costs of Christian burial by corporal 
labor — to that degree it is certain that we are all Christians. It stands 
firm in "Christendom," stands as firm as the principle of contradiction 
outside of Christendom, it stands firm, this eternal principle, which no 
doubt is able to shake: we are all Christians. 

A difficulty about the New Testament 

In the New Testament everything is planned in noble proportions. 

The true is represented ideally; but on the other hand errors and 
aberrations are again on a big scale: we are warned against hypocrisy, 
against all sorts of false teaching, against presumptuous reliance upon 
good works, etc., etc. 

But strangely enough the New Testament takes no account of the 
thing there is all-too-great a mass of in this world, which is the content 
of this world, that is, of twaddle, twattle, patter, smallness, mediocrity, 
playing at Christianity, transforming everything into mere words. Ow- 
ing to this it is almost impossible by the aid of the New Testament to 
punch a blow at real life, at the actual world in which we live, where 
for one certified hypocrite there are 100,000 twaddlers, for one certified 
heretic, 100,000 nincompoops. 

The New Testament seems to entertain high notions of what it is to 
be a man. On the one hand it holds up the ideal; on the other hand, 
when it depicts wrong actions, one sees that it has nevertheless a high 
notion of what it is to be a man: but twaddling, nincompoopism, medi- 
ocrity, are constantly spared its blows. 

So from time immemorial twaddle has taken advantage of this to 
establish itself as the true Christian orthodoxy — hence these countless 
battalions of millions of Christians. This orthodoxy, so strong in num- 
bers, so weak in mind, takes advantage of the fact that one cannot 
truthfully denounce it as heterodoxy, hypocrisy, etc. (as indeed one can- 
not) — ergo it is the true Christian orthodoxy. 

And this can very well be argued. The fact is that in every situation 
the highest and the lowest have a certain superficial resemblance to one 
another, neither of them being a little lower than the high, nor having 
the intermediate qualification between high and low. Thus these two 
qualifications, that of being above all criticism, and that of being 
beneath all criticism, have a certain resemblance to one another. And 
so it is also with the orthodoxy of these masses and of the priests who 
live off of them en masse: it resembles true Christianity in so far as it 
is not heterodoxy or heresy. 

In other respects it resembles true Christianity even less than does 
any heresy or heterodoxy whatsoever. The situation is this: as high 
as true Christianity stands above all heresy and error and aberration, 
just so deep below all heresy and error and aberration lies twaddle. 
But, as has been said, the difficulty about the New Testament is that, 


requiring as it does ideality and fighting against spirits, it does not 
once take aim at this immense corpus which in "Christendom" is con- 
stantly producing the Christian orthodoxy and the Christian seriousness 
which expresses itself in the fact that "witnesses to the truth" (what 
a satirical self-contradiction!) make a career and a success in this world 
by depicting on Sundays how truth must suffer in this world. 

Of this fact one must take due notice. And when one has duly noticed 
it, one will see that after all the New Testament is in the right, that 
things do go as the New Testament has foretold. In the midst of this 
immense population of "Christians," this shoal of Christians, there live 
here and there some individuals, a single individual. For him the way 
is narrow (cf. the New Testament), he is hated by all (cf. the New 
Testament), to put him to death is regarded as a divine service (cf. the 
New Testament). This after all is a curious book, the New Testament; 
it really is in the right; for these individuals, this single individual — 
why, yer, they would be the Christians. 

If we really are Christians — what then is God? 

If it isn't so — that what we understand by being a Christian is a vain 
conceit, that all this machinery with a State Church and iooo spiritual- 
worldly counselors of chancery, etc., is a prodigious optical illusion 
which in eternity will not help us in the least, on the contrary will be 
used as an accusation against us — if it isn't so; for in that case, let us 
(for eternity's sake!) get rid of it the sooner the better. 

if it isn't so, if what we mean by being a Christian really is being 

a Christian — what then is God? 

He is the most comical being that ever lived, His Word the most 
comical book that ever has come to light: to set heaven and earth in 
motion (as He does in His Word), so threaten with hell, with eternal order to attain what we understand by being Christians 
(and we indeed are true Christians) — no, nothing so comical ever 
occurred! Imagine that a man with a loaded pistol stepped up to a 
person and said to him, "I'll shoot you dead," or imagine something still 
more terrible, that he were to say, "I'll seize upon your person and tor- 
ture you to death in the most dreadful manner, if you do not (now be 
on the watch, for here it comes) ...make your own life here on earth as 
profitable and enjoyable as you possibly can." This surely is the most 
comical speech; for to bring that about one really does not need to 
threaten with a loaded pistol and the most agonizing kind of death; 
perhaps neither the loaded pistol nor the most agonizing kind of death 
would avail to prevent it. And so it is here: by the dread of eternal 
punishment (frightful menace!), by the hope of an eternal blessedness, 
to want to bring about...yes, to bring about what we are (for what we 
call a Christian is indeed to be a Christian), so then to want to bring 
about what we are: that we may live as we most like to live — for to 
refrain from civil crimes is nothing but plain shrewdness. 

The most dreadful sort of blasphemy is that of which "Christendom" 
is guilty : transforming the God of Spirit intc.ludicrous twaddle. And 
the stupidest [literally, most spirit-less] divine worship, more stupid 
than anything that is or was to be found in paganism, more stupid than 
worshiping a stone, an ox, an insect, more stupid than all that is — to 
worship under the name of God...a twaddler. 

In case we really are Christians, in case it is (Chris- 
tianly) quite as it should be with "Christendom," a 
"Christian world" — then the New Testament is eo 
ipso no longer a guide for Christians, cannot be such 

Under the assumed conditions, the New Testament neither is nor 
can be a guide for Christians — for the way is changed, is entirely dif- 
ferent from the one in the New Testament. 

The New Testament therefore, regarded as a guide for Christians, 
becomes, under the assumption we have made, a historical curiosity, 
pretty much like a guidebook to a particular country when everything 
in that country has been totally changed. Such a guidebook serves no 
longer the serious purpose of being useful to travelers in that country, 
but at the most it is worth reading for amusement. While one is mak- 
ing the journey easily by railway, one reads in the guidebook, "Here is 
Woolf's Gullet where one plunges 70,000 fathoms down under the earth"; 
while one sits and smokes one's cigar in the snug cafe, one reads in the 
guidebook, "Here it is a band of robbers has its stronghold, from which 
it issues to assault the travelers and maltreat them"; here it is, etc. Here 
it is; that is, here it was; for now (it is very amusing to imagine how it 
was), now there is no Woolf's Gullet but the railway, and no robber 
band, but a snug cafe. 

If then we really are Christians, if it is quite as it should be with 
"Christendom" and a Christian world — then would I shout, loud enough 
if possible to be heard in heaven, "Thou infinite One, if in other respects 
Thou hast showed Thyself to be love, this verily was unloving on Thy 
part, that Thou hast not let men know that the New Testament is no 
longer a guide [guidebook] for Christians! How cruel, while all has 
been changed to the very opposite, and yet it is true that we are all 
Christians, to alarm the weak by the fact that Thy Word has not yet 
been repealed or altered!" 

However this I cannot assume, that God could be like that; and 
therefore I am compelled to try another explanation, to which also I 
am much more inclined: this whole thing about "Christendom" and "a 
Christian world" is a knavish trick on man's part, the notion that we 
really are Christians is a vain conceit by force of the knavish trick; 
on the other hand, the New Testament, entirely unchanged, is the 
guidebook for Christians, for whom things will go in this world as one 
reads in the New Testament, and who should not let themselves be 
disturbed by the fact that for knavish Christians things go differently 
in this world, a knavish world. 

How lucky we are not all priests! 

[May ii.] 

Imagine that a society was formed for the purpose of counteracting 
the drinking of wine. 

To that end the director of the society thought it expedient to engage 
a number of men who as emissaries, speakers, call them "priests," 
could travel through the whole land, working to win men and per- 
suade them to join the society. 

"But," said the director at the meeting when the thing was decided, 
"to economize on the priests doesn't do a damn bit of good, to require 
them not to drink wine leads to nothing, all we get out of that is the 
watery and fasting talk which doesn't fill anybody with enthusiasm 
for joining our association. No, we must not economize on the priest, 
he must have his bottle of wine every day, and in proportion to his 
zeal something extra, so that he may have a liking for his work, and 
with warmth, vigor, the whole power of conviction, he will carry people 
away, so that they will enter our society in countless numbers." 

Suppose that all of them became, not members of the society, but 
priests in the service of this society. 

So it is with Christianity and the State. Christianity, the teaching 
about renunciation, about heterogeneity to this world, a teaching which 
issues no checks except those payable in another world, this teaching 
the State wants to have introduced. "But," says the State, "to economize 
on the priests really doesn't do any good, all we get out of it is a kind 
of fasting and waterish something which wins nobody for the teaching 
but rather scares them all away. No, the priest must be remunerated 
in such a way, his life arranged in such a way, that he can find pleasure, 
both for himself and with his family, in preaching this doctrine. Thus 
there can be hope for winning men for the renunciation of the earthly; 
for the priest will be in the mood to describe to men with warmth, 
vigor, the whole power of conviction, how blessed this renunciation 
and suffering is, how blessed it is to get checks payable only in another 
world, that it is [listen to him!] blessed, blessed, blessed!" 

How lucky we are not all priests! 

God in heaven behaves in a different way when He wants to introduce 
Christianity. He assures Himself that in any case at least one man be- 
comes a Christian: the teacher of Christianity. And then off He goes 
winning men for the doctrine. Well, yes, it goes slowly, and in the same 

how lucky! 113 

degree that it is certain the teacher is a Christian, the likelihood is that 
it will end with the teacher being put to death, and the whole outcome 
would be one: the teacher. 

However, God in heaven is entirely lacking in shrewdness, especially 
the high shrewdness of statesmanship; He is a poor narrow-minded fel- 
low of the old school, simple enough really to believe that when one 
wants to sew one must knot the thread, 11 He has no notion of that which 
is the secret of the statesman's shrewdness, no presentiment how much 
faster it goes if one lets such foolishness alone and takes the matter up 
seriously, that then with a turn of the hand one has millions of Chris- 
tians by the help of teachers who are not Christians. 

O human nonsense! And this has been called seriousness! Centuries 
have been thrown away upon that costly foolishness, which has been 
paid for with money at a dear price, and paid for still more 
having forfeited eternity! 



S. Kierkegaard 


Published by C. A. Reitzel's Estate and Heirs 

Bianco Luno's Press 


June 1855. 
[Published June 16.] 

What Christ's judgment is about official Christianity 

IT might seem strange that not till now do I come out with this; for 
Christ's judgment after all is surely decisive, inopportune as it must 
seem to the clerical gang of swindlers who have taken forcible posses- 
sion of the firm "Jesus Christ" and done a flourishing business under the 
name of Christianity. 

It is not without reason, however, that I educe this testimony now, 
and he who has followed with attention my whole work as an author 
will not have failed completely to observe that there is a certain method 
in the way I set to work, that in the first place it is determined by the 
fact that this whole thing about "Christendom" is, as I have said, a 
criminal case, corresponding to what ordinarily is known as forgery, 
imposture, except that here it is religion which is thus made use of; 
and in the second place by the fact that I really have, as I have said, 
a talent for detective work. 

Consider this a moment, so that thou mayest be able to follow the 
course of the development. I began by giving myself out to be a poet, 
aiming slyly at what I thought might well be the real situation of of- 
ficial Christianity, that the difference between a Freethinker and official 
Christianity is that the Freethinker is an honest man who bluntly 
teaches that Christianity is poetry, Dichtung, 12 whereas official Chris- 
tianity is a forger who solemnly protests that Christianity is something 
quite different, and by this means conceals the fact that for its part it 
does actually turn Christianity into poetry, doing away with the follow- 
ing of Christ, so that only through the power of imagination is one 
related to the Pattern, whilst living for one's own part in entirely dif- 
ferent categories, which means to be related poetically to Christianity 
or to transform it into poetry which is no more morally binding than 
poetry essentially is; and at last one casts the Pattern away entirely and 
lets what it is to be a man, mediocrity, count pretty nearly as the ideal. 

Under the name of a poet I then drew out a number of ideals, 
brought forth that to which — yes, to which iooo royal functionaries are 
bound by an oath. And these good men noticed nothing whatever, 
they felt perfectly secure, to such a degree was everything spiritlessness 
[i.e. stupidity] and worldliness; these good men had no presentiment 
that anything was hidden behind the poet — that the line of action was 
that of a detective's shrewdness in order to make the person concerned 
feel secure, a method the police use precisely for the sake of having a 
chance to get a profounder insight. 

n8 Christ's judgment 

Then some time elapsed. I even stood on very good terms with these 
perjured men — and quite quietly I managed to introduce the ideals, 
and at the same time got acquainted with the men with whom I had 
to deal. 

But at last these good men became impatient with the poet, he was 
too impertinent for them. This was occasioned by the article against 
Bishop Martensen about Bishop Mynster. Feeling perfectly secure as 
they did, they then made a great outcry (as one will recall from that 
time), saying that it was "far too great a standard which was being 
applied," 13 etc. — feeling themselves perfectly secure. 

Then this poet suddenly transformed himself, threw away the guitar, 
if I may speak thus, brought out a book which is called The New Testa- 
ment of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and — I may say, with a 
detective's eye upon them — put it up to these good perjured teachers 
whether this is not the book to which they were bound by an oath, this 
book whose standard is a good deal higher than that which the "poet" 
had employed. 

From that instant there supervened, as one knows, profound silence. 
So prompt in raising a warning, so ready in declaiming, as long as they 
thought they not only could slip out of it but could show themselves 
off by saying, "It is a poet we have before us, his ideals are extravagant, 
the standard is far too great" — then they were silent from the moment 
that book and the oath came into the game. The first thing is to make 
the person in question feel secure; a police agent, though he were in 
possession of all other talents, if he has no virtuosity in the art of making 
people feel secure, is nothing of a "detective talent." In that condition 
the opposite party inverts the whole relationship: it is he, precisely he 
who is the honest man, and it looks almost as if the detective had got 
into a dilemma. But then when the detective, by this making the op- 
posite party feel secure, has learned what he wanted to know, he alters 
his procedure, goes bluntly about it — and then suddenly the opposite 
party becomes silent, bites his lips, and likely thinks, This is a pretty 

So then I brought forward the New Testament, took the liberty of 
respectfully calling to mind that these respected witnesses to the truth 
were bound by an oath to the New Testament — and then silence fol- 
lowed. Was not this strange? 

Nevertheless I thought it best to keep them if possible in obscurity 
about how well posted I was and to what degree I have the New Testa- 


ment on my side; and in that too I succeeded, though it could not occur 
to me to boast of it. 

I spoke then in my own name; each time more decisively, it is true, 
since I saw that they steadily disdained the effort I first made to state 
the case for the opponent as favorably as I could possibly do it; and at 
last I undertook in my own name to say that it is a crime, a great crime, 
to take part in the public worship of God as it now is. That was in my 
own name. Now of course they no longer could escape by representing 
that I am a poet while it was the others who could even plume them- 
selves upon being the truth. Yet there is always something reassuring 
in the fact that I speak in my own name, so in view of this reassurance 
I succeeded again in making the opponents feel a little secure, in order 
to have an opportunity of knowing them better, to see whether they 
were inclined to harden themselves against the accusation. For doubt- 
less conscience must have smitten these perjured men at hearing this 
word which altered everything: It is a crime, a great crime, to take part 
in the public worship of God as it now is; for this is at the greatest 
possible remove from being divine worship. 

But, as I have said, the reassuring thing was that I spoke in my own 
name. For though it is true that I know with God that I have spoken 
truly and spoken as I ought to speak, and though what I have said is 
true and ought to be said, even if there were no words to this effect 
from Christ himself, yet it is always a good thing that we know from 
the New Testament how Christ judges official Christianity. 

And that we do know from the New Testament, His judgment is 
found there. But naturally I am fully convinced that thou, whoever thou 
art, if thou knowest nothing about what Christianity is except what is 
to be learned from the Sunday sermons of the "witnesses to the truth," 
thou mayest go year after year to three churches every Sunday, hear, 
broadly speaking, every one of the royal functionaries — and never hear 
the words of Christ which I have in view. Presumably the witnesses to 
the truth think about it in this way: The proverb says not to speak of 
rope in the house of a man that was hanged; so also it would be mad- 
ness to bring forward in the church these words from God's Word 
which bear witness before high heaven against the juggling tricks of 
the priests. Indeed I might be tempted to make the following require- 
ment, which, equitable and mild as it is, is yet the only punishment I 
desire to inflict upon the priests. Certain passages from the New Testa- 
ment would be selected, and the priest be obliged to read them aloud 
before the congregation. Of course I should have to make one stipula- 


tion, that after he had knocked off reading such a passage from the 
New Testament the priest should not, as he usually does, put the New 
Testament aside and proceed thereupon to "explain" what he had read. 
No, many thanks. No, what I might be tempted to propose is the fol- 
lowing order of service: the congregation assembles; a prayer is said 
at the church door; a hymn is sung; then the priest goes up to the 
speaker's seat, takes out the New Testament, pronounces the name of 
God, and thereupon reads from it before the congregation that definite 
passage, loudly and distinctly, whereupon he has to be silent and to 
remain standing silently for five minutes in the pulpit, and then he 
can go. This I would regard as exceedingly profitable. I am not think- 
ing of making the priest blush. He who is conscious of willing to 
understand by Christianity what he understands by Christianity, and 
without blushing has been capable of taking an oath upon the New Tes- 
tament, is not a man one can easily cause to blush; and it may indeed be 
said to be an essential part of the preparation of an official priest that 
he has weaned himself from the childish habits of youth and innocence, 
like blushing, etc. But I assume that the congregation would blush on 
behalf of the priest. 

And now for the words of Christ to which I refer. 

They are found in Matthew 23:29-33; Luke 11:47, 4^5 an< ^ trie y rea ^ 
as follows: 

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! 
for ye build the sepulchers of the prophets and garnish 
the tombs of the righteous, and say, If we had been in 
the days of our fathers, we should not have been par- 
takers with them in the blood of the prophets. Where- 
fore ye witness to yourselves, that ye are sons of them 
that slew the prophets. Fill up then the measure of 
your fathers. Ye serpents, ye offspring of vipers, how 
shall ye escape the judgment of hell'? 

Woe unto you ! for ye build the tombs of the proph- 
ets, and your fathers killed them. So ye are witnesses 
and consent unto the works of your fathers : for they 
killed them, and ye build their tombs. 


But what then is "Christendom"? Is not "Christendom" the most 
colossal attempt at serving God, not by following Christ, as He re- 
quired, and suffering for the doctrine, but instead of that, by "building 
the sepulchers of the prophets and garnishing the tombs of the right- 
eous" and saying, "If we had been in the days of our fathers, we should 
not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets"? 

It is of this sort of divine service I used the expression that, in com- 
parison with the Christianity of the New Testament, it is playing 
Christianity. The expression is essentially true and characterizes the 
thing perfectly. For what does it mean to play, when one reflects how 
the word must be understood in this connection? It means to imitate, 
to counterfeit, a danger when there is no danger, and to do it in such 
a way that the more art is applied to it, the more delusive the pretense 
is that the danger is present. So it is that soldiers play war on the 
parade grounds: there is no danger, one only pretends that there is, 
and the art essentially consists in making everything deceptive, just 
as if it were a matter of life and death. And thus Christianity is played 
in "Christendom." Artists in dramatic costumes make their appearance 
in artistic buildings — there really is no danger at all, anything but that : 
the teacher is a royal functionary, steadily promoted, making a career — 
and now he dramatically plays Christianity, in short, he plays comedy. 
He lectures about renunciation, but he himself is being steadily pro- 
moted; he teaches all that about despising worldly titles and rank, but 
he himself is making a career; he describes the glorious ones ("the 
prophets") who were killed, and the constant refrain is: If we had 
been in the days of our fathers, we should not have been partakers 
with them in the blood of the prophets — we who build their sepulchers 
and garnish their tombs. So they will not go so far even as to do what I 
have constantly, insistently and imploringly proposed, that they should 
at least be so truthful as to admit that they are not a bit better than 
those who killed the prophets. No, they take advantage of the circum- 
stance that they are not in fact contemporary with them to assert men- 
daciously of themselves that they are far, far better than those who 
killed the prophets, entirely different beings from those monsters — they 
in fact build the sepulchers of the men so unjustly killed and garnish 
their tombs. 

However, this expression, "to play Christianity," could not be used 
by the Authoritative Teacher; He has a different way of talking about it. 

Christ calls it (O give heed!), He calls it "hypocrisy." And not only 
that, but He says (now shudder!), He says that this guilt of hypocrisy 


is as great, precisely as great a crime as that of killing the prophets, so 
it is blood-guilt. Yea, if one could question Him, He would perhaps 
make answer that this guilt of hypocrisy, precisely because it is adroitly 
hidden and deliberately carried on through a whole lifetime, is a greater 
crime than theirs who in an outburst of rage killed the prophets. 

This then is the judgment, Christ's judgment upon "Christendom." 
Shudder; for if you do not, you are implicated in it. It is so deceptive: 
must not we be nice people, true Christians, we who build the sepulchers 
of the prophets and garnish the tombs of the righteous, must not we be 
nice people, especially in comparison with those monsters who killed 
them? And besides, what else shall we do? We surely cannot do more 
than be willing to give of our money to build churches, etc., not be 
stingy with the priest, and go ourselves to hear him. The New Testa- 
ment answers: What thou shalt do is to follow Christ, to suffer, suffer 
for the doctrine; the divine service thou wouldst like to carry on is 
hypocrisy; what the priests, with family, live on is that thou art a 
hypocrite, or they live by making thee a hypocrite, by keeping thee a 

"Your fathers killed them, and ye build their tombs: so ye are wit- 
nesses and consent unto the works of your fathers." Luke 11:48. 

Yes, Sunday Christianity and the huge gang of tradesmen-priests 
may indeed become furious at such a speech, which with one single 
word closes all their shops, quashes all this royally authorized trade, 
and not only that, but warns against their divine worship as against 

However, it is Christ who speaks. So profoundly does hypocrisy in- 
here in human nature that just when the natural man feels at his best, 
has got a divine worship fixed up entirely to his own liking, Christ's 
judgment is heard: This is hypocrisy, it is blood-guilt. It is not true that 
while on weekdays thy life is worldliness, the good thing about thee is 
that after all on Sundays thou goest to church, the church of official 
Christianity. No, no, official Christianity is much worse than all thy 
weekday worldliness, it is hypocrisy, it is blood-guilt. 

At the bottom of "Christendom" there is this truth, that man is a born 
hypocrite. The Christianity of the New Testament was truth. Put 
man shrewdly and knavishly invented a new kind of Christianity which 
builds the sepulchers of the prophets and garnishes the tombs of the 
righteous, and says, "If we had been in the days of our fathers." And 
this is what Christ calls blood-guilt. 


What Christianity wants is...the following of Christ. What man does 
not want is suffering, least of all the kind of suffering which is properly 
the Christian sort, suffering at the hands of men. So he dispenses with 
"following," and consequently with suffering, the peculiarly Christian 
suffering, and then builds the sepulchers of the prophets. That is one 
thing. And then he says, lyingly before God, to himself and to others, 
that he is better than those who killed the prophets. That is the second 
thing. Hypocrisy first and hypocrisy last — and according to the judg- 
ment of Christ...blood-guilt. 

Imagine that the people are assembled in a church in Christendom, 
and Christ suddenly enters the assembly. What dost thou think He 
would do? 

He would turn upon the teachers (for of the congregation He would 
judge as He did of yore, that they were led astray), He would turn 
upon them who "walk in long robes," tradesmen, jugglers, who have 
made God's house, if not a den of robbers, at least a shop, a peddler's 
stall, and would say, "Ye hypocrites, ye serpents, ye generation of vi- 
pers"; and likely as of yore He would make a whip of small cords and 
drive them out of the temple. 

Thou who readest this, if thou knowest nothing more about Chris- 
tianity than is to be learned from the Sunday twaddle — I am thoroughly 
prepared for thee to be shocked at me, as though I were guilty of the 
cruelest mockery of God by representing Christ in this way, "putting 
such words into His mouth: serpents, generation of vipers. That is so 
dreadful. These indeed are words one never hears from the mouth of 
a cultivated person; and to make Him repeat them several times, that 
is so dreadfully common; and to turn Christ into a man who uses 

My friend, thou canst look it up in the New Testament. But when 
what has to be attained by preaching and teaching Christianity is an 
agreeable, a pleasurable life in a position of prestige, then the picture 
of Christ must be altered considerably. As for "garnishing" — no, there 
will be no sparing on that: gold, diamonds, rubies, etc. No, the priest 
is glad to see that and makes men believe that this is Christianity. But 
severity, the severity which is inseparable from the seriousness of eter- 
nil/, that must go. Christ thus becomes a languishing figure, the imper- 
sonation of insipid human kindliness. This is related to the consideration 
that the plate must be passed during the sermon and the congregation 
must be in a mood to spend something, to shell out freely; and above 
all it is related to the desire prompted by fear of men to be on good 


terms with people, whereas the Christianity of the New Testament is: 
in the fear of God to suffer for the doctrine at the hands of men. 

But "woe unto you, who build the sepulchers of the prophets" (teach- 
ing the people that this is the Christianity of the New Testament) 
"and garnish the tombs of the righteous" (constantly setting Money and 
Christianity together by the ears) and say, "If we" — yea, if ye had lived 
in the time of the prophets, ye would have put them to death, that is, 
ye would have done, as actually was done, hiddenly prompted the people 
to do it and bear the guilt. But in vain ye hide yourselves behind "Chris- 
tendom," for what is hidden becomes revealed when the Truth pro- 
nounces the judgment: "Wherefore ye bear witness to yourselves that 
ye are the sons of them that killed the prophets, and ye fill up the 
measure of your fathers; for they killed the prophets, and ye garnish 
their tombs." In vain ye set yourselves up as holy, in vain ye think that 
precisely by building the tombs of the righteous ye prove yourselves 
better than the ungodly men who put them to death. Ah, the impo- 
tence of hypocrisy to hide itself! Ye are seen through and through. 
Precisely the building of the tombs of the righteous and saying, "If we," 
precisely this is to kill them, to be the true children of those ungodly 
men, doing the same thing as they, it is to bear witness to the fathers' 
deeds and to consent to them, to fill up the measure of your fathers, 
that is, to do what is far worse. 

No. 3 


i. State / Christianity. 

2. Is the State justified, Christianly, in seducing a 

part of the youth engaged in study? 

3. Is the State justified in receiving an oath which 

not only is not kept but in the taking of which 
is a self-contradiction? 

4. Is the State justified, Christianly, in misleading 

the people, or in misleading their judgment as 
to what Christianity is? 

5. Let the State test the reckoning, and it will be 

found that the reckoning is radically wrong. 

6. If the State truly would serve Christianity, let it 

take away the 1000 livings. 

June 27, 1855. S. Kierkegaard. 


Published by C. A. Reitzel's Estate and Heirs 

Bianco Luno's Press 

From the Journal 


I might be tempted to make to Christendom a proposal different from 
that of the Bible Society. Let us collect all the New Testaments we have, 
let us bring them out to an open square or up to the summit of a moun- 
tain, and while we all kneel let one man speak to God thus: "Take this 
book back again; we men, such as we now are, are not fit to go in for 
this sort of thing, it only makes us unhappy." This is my proposal, that 
like those inhabitants in Gerasa we beseech Christ to depart from our 
borders. This would be an honest and human way of talking — rather 
different from the disgusting hypocritical priestly fudge about life having 
no value for us without this priceless blessing which is Christianity. 

XP A 347 

State / Christianity 

The State is directly proportionate to number (the numerical); 
therefore when a state is decreasing, its numbers may gradually 
become so small that the State ceases to exist, the concept is snuffed out. 

Christianity stands in a different relation to number: one single true 
Christian is enough to justify the assertion that Christianity exists. In 
tact, Christianity is inversely proportionate to number; for the concept 
"Christian" is a polemical concept, one can only be a Christian in con- 
trast or contrastedly. So it is also in the New Testament: to God's desire 
to be loved, which essentially is a relationship of contrast or opposition 
in order to raise love to a higher power, corresponds the fact that the 
Christian who loves God in contrast and opposition to other men has 
to suffer from their hate and persecution. As soon as the opposition is 
taken away, the thing of being a Christian is twaddle — as it is in "Chris- 
tendom," which has slyly done away with Christianity by the affirma- 
tion that we are all Christians. 

So then the concept "Christianity" is inversely proportionate to num- 
ber / "State" is directly proportionate : and for all that they have made 

Christianity and State divisible into one another to the advantage 

of twaddle and the priests. For to set State and Christianity together by 
the ears in this fashion makes just as good sense as to talk of a yard 
of butter, or if possible there is less sense in it, since butter and a yard 
are merely things which have nothing to do with one another, whereas 
State and Christianity are inversely related to or rather from one another. 

This, however, is with difficulty understood in "Christendom," where 
one naturally has no presentiment of what Christianity is, and where 
it never could occur to anyone, nor when it is affirmed could one get 
it into one's head, that Christianity has been abolished by expansion, 
by these millions of name-Christians, the number of which is surely 
meant to conceal the fact that there is not one Christian, that Christian- 
ity simply does not exist. For as one speaks of chattering oneself away 
from a subject by a long talk, so has the human race, and the individual 
within it, wanted to chatter itself out of being a Christian and sneak 
out of it by the help of this shoal of name-Christians, a Christian state, 
a Christian world, notions shrewedly calculated to make God so con- 
fused in His head by all these millions that He cannot discover that He 
has been hoaxed, that there is not one single. ..Christian. 

Is the State justified, Christianly, in seducing a part 
of the youth engaged in study*? 

"Seducing" — commonly the word is used in relation to the feminine. 
One speaks of seducing a young girl, reflecting that at an age when the 
longings of the heart are directed to vain and earthly things, a way is 
opened to the poor child which leads to what she desires, but, alas, at 
the cost of her innocence. And the seduction of a young girl seems so 
unjustifiable precisely because at her age the longing for pleasure and 
the vanity of life is so strong in her own breast that she has special need 
of an influence from without in an opposite direction. As the proverb 
says, it is easy to get one to prance who likes to dance; and precisely for 
this reason it is so unjustifiable to take advantage of her. 

Christianly, it may be said of the State that it is guilty of precisely 
the same thing with respect to the young men engaged in theological 
studies. For Christianity's view of life is so high that what commonly 
is called innocence and purity suffices by no means to meet its require- 
ments. According to the Christianity of the New Testament, being a 
Christian, not to speak of being a teacher of Christianity, is sheer re- 
nunciation and suffering, and the lot of being a teacher is for the natural 
man the least attractive lot. 

But precisely at the moment when the young man's longing after the 
things of this world may be only too strong, precisely at that moment 
when he is especially in need of the strongest influence in the opposite 
direction, either to frighten him back from taking that path, or, if he 
really has a call, to make him ripe to tread it — precisely of that mo- 
ment the State takes advantage, spreading its toils to entangle him, to 
"seduce" him, so that to the youth whose mind is beguiled by seduction 
it looks as if being a teacher of Christianity is precisely the path which 
will lead him to all that he desires, to a reward for his labor not only 
ample and secure but increasing with the lapse of years, to a cosy home 
in the bosom of his family, perhaps to a career, perhaps even to a bril- 
liant career — but only too surely, alas, only too surely, at the cost of his 
innocence. For after all there is an oath he has to make upon the New 
Testament, an oath which then opens to him, the seduced man, entrance 
to the things desired, but revenges itself later. 

What is required might, Christianly, be stated thus: Whether the 
State might not be so good as to make known as soon as possible that 
from a given date it no longer undertakes to appoint teachers who have 


perjured themselves upon the New Testament. With the clergy now 
actually appointed the State has made a contract, to my way of thinking 
it has even contracted with all the young men now actually engaged 
in theological study. Let it therefore indicate a definite year after which 
it will no longer have anything to do with the appointment of such 

Is the State justified in receiving an oath which not 

only is not kept but in the taking of which there 

is a self-contradiction*? 

One need not be very old, if only one has an eye for such things and 
has made use of it, to have convinced oneself that men have a decided 
partiality for illusion, find the best repose in illusion. 

If there is one thing or another of importance for the community, 
men generally concentrate their effort in getting a committee appointed. 
When it is appointed people are reassured, do not much concern them- 
selves whether the committee does anything, and finally forget the 
whole affair. 

So also when something is to be seriously undertaken, men think 
there must be an oath, an oath which reassures us that the thing is 
serious and remains serious — whether the oath is kept or not concerns 
them less. 

Indeed for sheer seriousness they sometimes do not observe whether 
the taking of the oath does not involve a self-contradiction. 

This is the case with the priest's oath upon the New Testament, 
which the State nevertheless receives. If it should turn out that the 
oath is not kept, that would be not the most suspicious circumstance; 
but the truth is that it involves a self-contradiction. Yet it is likely that 
neither society nor the individual would feel reassured if in relation to 
something so serious as being a teacher of Christianity the seriousness 
is not secured by. oath, the taking of which certainly involves a 
self-contradiction, so that one who is reassured by such an oath is re- 
assured by. illusion. 

Christianity is related to a kingdom which is not of this world — and 
then the State receives an oath from teachers of Christianity, which oath 
signifies therefore that the man swears loyalty precisely to that which 
is the opposite to the State. Such an oath is a self-contradiction, like 
making a man swear by laying his hand upon the New Testament, 
where it is written, Thou shalt not swear. 

In case the priest should be by any manner of means what the oath 
upon the New Testament obliges him to be, namely, a disciple of 
Christ, and his life an imitation of Christ, then his engagement as a 
royal functionary is the greatest obstacle. At the very moment when 
he should move in the direction in which his oath upon the New 
Testament requires him to move, he must break with his position as a 
royal functionary. That is, by an oath as a royal functionary they bind 


him in such a way that if he is to keep the oath they require him to 
make upon the New Testament, he must break with the first relation- 
ship. What a self-contradiction! And what a strange sort of seriousness, 
that an oath is taken (how solemnly!), an oath the taking of which 
is...a self-contradiction! And how pernicious both to the State and to 

The Christian demand upon the State must be to the following 
effect: Whether the State, the sooner the better, might not be so good 
as to dispense all the clergy from their oath upon the New Testament, 
give them back the oath, as ah expression of the fact that the State had 
got into something it cannot meddle with, which at the same time will 
express what is true, that God, if I may venture to say so, discharges 
the whole actual garrison of priests, gives them back their oath. 

Is the State justified, Christianly, in misleading the 

people, or in misleading their judgment as to 

what Christianity is? 

[May 18.] 

When we talk of the merely human, and leave the divine (Chris- 
tianity) out of account, the situation is this: the State is the highest 
instance of authority, it is humanly the highest authority. 

The people as a whole and the individuals among them live there- 
fore in the assurance that everything which bears a special mark of 
being legalized, sanctioned, authorized by the State, everything which 
in a monarchical state is marked "royal," is to be regarded as some- 
thing more than the same thing without this adjective which by the 
intervention of the State provides an assurance (guarantee) that here 
is something one can rely upon, something one has to respect. 

Thus it is the people live, and it is desirable that they should live in 
this assurance; for this serves to make quiet and tranquil subjects who 
place their trust confidently in the State. But then the people live in 
such a way that from morning to night the individual gets an im- 
pression of this, all his thinking is ingrafted with the notion of what 
is royal, what is authorized by the State. Even in the least important 
concerns this way of thinking intrudes; business and professional men 
think that by getting permission to use the adjective "royal" they count 
for more than those who do not have this adjective. 

Let us now turn to Christianity. It is the divine, and that instance 
of the divine which precisely because it truly is the divine would not 
at any price be a kingdom of this world; on the contrary, it would that 
the Christian might venture life and blood to prevent it from becoming 
a kingdom of this world. 

Nevertheless the State takes it upon itself to introduce iooo royal 
functionaries under the guise of teachers of Christianity. 

Christianly, how misleading! The people, as was said, live and breathe 
in the thought that what is royally authorized is something more, more 
than what is not royally authorized. Then the people apply the notion 
to this instance also, have more respect for a royally authorized teacher 
of Christianity than for one who is not that, and then again with regard 
to the royally authorized teachers they have more respect in proportion 
as they are distinguished by the State, have higher rank, more orders 
of knighthood, bigger incomes. 

What a fundamental confusion! In the same sense as one speaks of 


murdering a language, this is murdering Christianity, turning it round 
about, standing it on its head, or in a polite fashion shuffling it out. 
Under the color of Christianity the people live as pagans! 

No, inasmuch as Christianity is the antithesis to the kingdoms of this 
world, is heterogeneous, not to be royally authorized is the truer thing. 
So to be royally authorized may be more easy, comfortable, conveni- 
ent..ior the priest; but Christianly it is a discommendation, precisely in 
the degree that, according to the State's order of precedence, one is in 
a higher station, has more orders, a bigger income. 

Let the State test the reckoning, and it will be 
found that the reckoning is radically wrong 

[June 16.] 

The test is quite simple: let the State (and this is the one and only 
Christian demand, and also the only reasonable thing), let the State 
make all preaching of Christianity a private practice — 

— and it will soon be evident whether there are in this land one and 
a half million Christians, and likewise whether there is in this land 
employment for iooo priests with families. 

The truth will prove to be that perhaps there is not really employ- 
ment for ioo priests, and the truth will also prove to be that perhaps 
there is not a single one of all these bishops, deans and priests who is 
capable of undertaking a private practice. 

Just as when the mother tongue was introduced in examinations 14 it 
was a sharpening of the test because the examinee had then no pretext 
that it was the language which hindered from betraying how much 
he knew, so is a private practice in the religious field very much more 
serious than this silly business of having royal functionaries, which 
does not so much as require one to have a religion for oneself, but 
merely to lecture qua royal functionary, paid by the State, protected by 
the State, insured of respect. ..qua royal functionary. 

What keeps up the illusion about a Christian nation is partly the 
universal human indolence and love of ease which prefers to remain in 
the old ruts — but principally it is these iooo self-interested men, among 
whom there is not a single one who is not pecuniarily interested in 
maintaining the illusion. If the illusion were removed, it is likely that 
900 would be entirely without any means of earning their living; and 
the 100 who are capable of carrying on a private practice understand 
only too well that this is something entirely different from the present 
service in gaiters, with steady promotion insured by the State which 
may amount to a salary of many thousands. That a man needs medical 
help is something which makes itself physically so understandable that 
the State does not need in this instance to help people to understand it. 
But when men are made free religiously, a person may have trouble 
enough in making clear to them their spiritual need. Here it is that 
the State helps — but no doubt very unchristianly. "What! You feel no 
need of Christianity? Perhaps you need to go to the Reformatory!" 
"What! You feel no need of Christianity? Then perhaps you feel a 
need of becoming nothing; for unless you become a Christian all paths 


in society are closed to you!" Ah, that helped the priests' practice; and 
it is upon this in great part the priest lived, as one of Peder Paar's 
characters said of himself, "I live bankruptcy." 15 

That is no use; we must get rid of all disguises, mystifications and 
pompousness in order to get at the fact — that the stability of the Estab- 
lished Church is a money question, that the solemn silence of the 
clergy has a perfectly simple explanation, corresponding to what hap- 
pens in business when a man is dunned for money and perhaps first 
tries to get out of it by pretending he did not hear. The clergy there- 
fore had far better admit the true situation; things will only become 
worse for them by the help of this sort of silence. When a man with 
gravely measured tread walks with great gravity down the street, people 
are prompted to think, This must be something uncommon; but when 
one chances to learn the explanation of this gravity, that the man is a 
little tight, that for this reason (to counteract the tendency to gravitate 
directly towards the curbstone) he must hold himself with such grav- 
ity — he might far better stagger a bit, people would perhaps smile, 
perhaps not notice his condition at all. On the other hand, by his gravity 
he prompts an interest, and now cannot escape the banter, which only 
becomes more unmerciful in proportion as he makes an effort to walk 
with more and more gravity. So it is with the silence of the clergy. An 
open, frank, direct word would have been infinitely more serviceable 
to them than this silence, which solemnly, with high uplifted solemnity, 
conceals the fact that it is...a money question. For now the sarcasm 
acquires interest, the situation of the clergy becomes by this solemn 
and pretentious silence so very interesting. 

If the State truly would serve Christianity, let it 
take away the 1000 livings 

[May 12.] 

As long as here in Denmark there exist iooo livings for teachers of 
Christianity, the best is being done that can be done to hinder Chris- 

As long as there are iooo livings, there continually will be a cor- 
responding number of men who propose in this way to earn their bread. 

Among these there will be some few who nevertheless had perhaps 
a call to preach Christianity. But precisely at the moment when it should 
have been a serious matter for them, in reliance only upon God and 
at their own risk, to undertake to corne forward as teachers — precisely 
then the State opens to them the convenience of accepting a royal office, 
whereby these few are botched. 

The far greater number will have no call at all to preach Christianity, 
but regard it simply as a livirg. 

In this way the State succeeds in filling the whole land with Chris- 
tianity in a badly spoiled condition, which creates the greatest difficulty 
for the introduction of true Christianity, far greater than complete 

Take an example. If the State had a mind to put a stop to all true 
poetry, it would need merely (and remember that poetry is not so heter- 
ogeneous to this world as Christianity is), it would need merely to 
introduce iooo livings for royal poetic functionaries. In this way the 
aim will soon be attained, the land will be overfilled continually with 
badly spoiled poetry, to such a degree that all true poetry becomes as 
good as impossible. The few who really had a call to become poets will 
precisely at the critical moment spring away from the effort required 
to venture out at one's own risk — and into the comfort of a royal office. 
But that effort is precisely the condition without which nothing can 
come of their call to be a poet. The many will see nothing but a living 
in this thing of being a poet, a living which is assured to them by the 
pain of going through with the course of reading for examination. 


No. 4 



Medical diagnosis. 


What really is shocking. 


Truth and a living. 


True Christians / Many Christians. 


In "Christendom" all are Christians; when all are 

Christians, the New Testament eo 

ipso does 

not exist, yea, it is impossible. 


The difficulty of my task. 


The personal / The official. 

July 7, 1855. S. Kierkegaard. 


Published by C. A. Reitzel's Estate 

and Heirs 

Bianco Luno's Press 

From the Journal 


Imagine a fortress, absolutely impregnable, provisioned for an eternity. 

There comes a new commandant. He conceives that it might be a 
good idea to build bridges over the moats — so as to be able to attack the 
besiegers. Charmant! He transforms the fortress into a countryseat, and 
naturally the enemy takes it. 

So it is with Christianity. They changed the method — and naturally the 
world conquered. 

In my Short Life of K., p. 234 

Medical diagnosis 

That a proper diagnosis and prognosis of an illness is more than 
half the battle, every physician will admit, and likewise that no 
ability, no care and vigilance, is of any avail when the case has not been 
correctly diagnosed. 

So it is also in relation to the religious. 

This thing of "Christendom," the notion that we are all Christians, 
people have allowed to prevail and wish to do so; and then they bring 
forward now one aspect of the teaching, now another. 

But the truth is that not only are we not Christians but we are not 
so much as pagans, to whom the Christian doctrine could be preached 
without embarrassment; but by an illusion, a monstrous illusion 
("Christendom," a Christian state, a Christian land, a Christian world), 
we are even prevented from becoming as receptive as the pagans were. 

And so people want the illusion to be undisturbed, its power to re- 
main intact, and on the other hand they want someone to furnish a 
new presentation of Christian doctrine. 16 

That is what they want; and in a certain sense it is quite natural, 
precisely because they are ensnared in the illusion (not to raise the query 
whether they are personally interested in the illusion), precisely for 
this cause they want what must feed the disease — a thing quite uni- 
versal, that what the sick man most desires is just what feeds the disease. 


Think of a hospital. The patients are dying like flies. The methods 
are altered in one way and another. It's no use. What does it come 
from? It comes from the building, the whole building is full of poison. 
That the patients are registered as dead, one of this disease, and that 
one of another, is not true; for they are all dead from the poison that 
is in the building. 

So it is in the religious sphere. That the religious situation is lament- 
able, that religiously men are in a pitiable state, nothing is more cer- 
tain. So one man thinks that it would help if we got a new hymnal, 17 
another a new altar-book, another a musical service, etc., etc. 

In vain — for it comes from...the building. This whole lumberroom 
of a State Church, which from time immemorial has not been venti- 
lated, spiritually speaking — the air confined in this lumberroom has 


developed poison. And for this reason the religious life is sick or has 
died out. For, alas, precisely that which worldliness regards as health 
is, Christianly considered, disease; and inversely, what Christianly con- 
sidered as health is regarded by worldliness as disease. 

Let it collapse, this lumberroom, get rid of it, shut all these shops 
and booths, the only ones which the severe Sunday ordinance 18 ex- 
empted, make this official ambiguity impossible, put all these men out 
of commission and make provision for them, these quacks. For if it 
is true that the royally authorized physician is the proper physician and 
the unauthorized a quack, in Christianity it is the other way around; 
precisely the royally authorized teacher is the quack, is such by being 
royally authorized. And let us again serve God in simplicity, instead of 
treating him as a fool in magnificent buildings. Let the thing again 
become seriousness, and stop playing a game. For a Christianity 
preached by royal functionaries who are paid and made secure by the 
State and employ the police against other people, such a Christianity 
has the same relation to the Christianity of the New Testament as 
swimming with a cork float or with a bladder has to swimming, 19 that 
is to say, it is play. 

Yea, let this come to pass. What Christianity needs is not the suf- 
focating protection of the State; no, it needs fresh air, it needs persecu- 
tion, and it needs...God's protection. The State only works disaster, it 
wards off persecution, and it is not the medium through which God's 
protection can be conducted. Above all, save Christianity from the 
State. By its protection it smothers Christianity to death, as a fat lady 
with her corpus overlies her baby. And it teaches Christianity the most 
disgusting bad habits, as for example, under the name of Christianity 
to employ the power of the police. 

A man becomes thinner and thinner day by day; he is wasting away. 
What can the matter be? He does not suffer want. "No, certainly not," 
says the physician, "it doesn't come from that, it comes precisely from 
eating, from the fact that he eats out of season, eats without being 
hungry, uses stimulants to arouse a little bit of appetite, and in that 
way he ruins his digestion, fades away as if he were suffering want." 

So it is religiously. The most fatal thing of all is to satisfy a want 
which is not yet felt, so that without waiting till the want is present, 
one anticipates it, likely also uses stimulants to bring about something 


which is supposed to be a want, and then satisfies it. And this is shock- 
ing! And yet this is what they do in the religious sphere, whereby they 
really are cheating men out of what constitutes the significance of life, 
and helping people to waste life. 

For this is the aim of the whole machinery of the State Church, 
which under the form of care for men's souls cheats them out of the 
highest thing in life, that in them there should come into being the 
concern about themselves, the want, which verily a teacher or priest 
would find according to his mind; but now, instead of this, the want 
(and precisely the coming into being of this want is life's highest sig- 
nificance for a man) does not come into being at all, but having been 
satisfied long before it came into being, it is prevented from coming 
into being. And this is thought to be the continuation of the work which 
the Saviour of the human race completed, this bungling of the human 
race! And why? Because there are now as a matter of fact so and so 
many royal functionaries who, with families, have to live off of this, 
under the name of. ..the cure of souls! 

What really is shocking 

[April io.] 

That the Christianity of the New Testament is a thing most repug- 
nant to us men (to the Jews a stumbling block, to the Greeks foolish- 
ness), that it is as though calculated to stir us men up against it, that 
as soon as it is heard it is the signal for the most passionate hate and 
the crudest persecution, of this the New Testament makes no conceal- 
ment; on the contrary, it affirms it as distinctly and decisively as pos- 
sible. It is heard constantly when Christ is talking with the Apostles, 
saying that they must not be offended; it is emphasized again and 
again that they must be well prepared for what awaited them. And the 
Apostles' talk bears sufficient witness to the fact that they had to ex- 
perience the truth of what was foretold. 

It therefore never could occur to anyone who understands himself 
Christianly, that he might be angry at a man if he were to become the 
object of his hate and resentment for telling him what Christianity 
really is. By no means, for when he understands himself Christianly 
he must find this quite natural. 

But even the man who is most exasperated against him must agree 
with him on one point and understand why he finds it shocking that 
there is a whole family of parasites (called to be teachers of Christianity 
and bound by an oath upon the New Testament) who support them- 
selves by palming off in the name of Christianity what is after their 
own taste (the absolutely decisive proof that it is not the Christianity of 
the New Testament), support themselves by preaching under the name 
of Christianity what is exactly the opposite of the Christianity of the 
New Testament, pluming themselves upon a royal commission, which 
is just as ridiculous as in a game of cards to want to take a trump with 
a simple card, or as wanting to legitimate oneself as a shepherd by 
a testimonial from the wolf. 

This is the shocking thing. Perhaps too it is without an analogy in 
history that a religion has been abolished by...flourishing. But note that 
in saying "flourishing" Christianity is understood as the opposite of 
what the New Testament understands by Christianity. The religion of 
suffering has become the religion of mirth, but it retains the name un- 

This is the shocking thing, that the situation is if possible made 
twice as difficult for Christianity as it was when it came into the world, 
because now it is confronted, not by pagans and Jews, whose whole 


resentment must be aroused, but by Christians whom the clerical gang 
of swindlers has made to believe that they are Christians, and that 
Christianity is set to the melody of a drinking song, only still merrier 
than such a song, which after all is constantly accompanied by the sad 
reflection that it soon is over and "in a hundred years is all forgotten";" 
whereas the merry Christian drinking song, according to the assurance 
of the priests, "lasts an eternity." 21 

Truth and a living 

[April 13.] 

Herr Zierlich, in the play by State Counselor Heiberg, 22 possesses, 
as everyone knows, the sense of decency to such a degree that he finds 
it indecent for men's and women's garments to be hung in the same 

We will leave that to Herr Zierlich. But on the other hand, what 
for us in our characterless age it is necessary to practice is separation, 
discrimination, between the infinite and the finite, between a striving 
for the infinite and for the finite, between living for something and 
living by something, which our age — most indecently! — has put to- 
gether in the closet, got them to curdle together or coalesce into one, 
which Christianity on the contrary, with the passion of eternity, with 
the most dreadful either/or, holds apart from one another, separating 
them by a yawning abyss. 

Christianity, which also has after all some acquaintance with man 
and knows what a fine chap he is, how easy it is to get him to engage 
in and take an oath upon whatsoever cause it may be, if only it is a 
way to a living, a way of making a career, of being able to get himself a 
wife, etc. — Christianity therefore, as warily as possible, as warily as the 
police can act, has erected a barrier with a view to preventing these 
things from coalescing completely into one: Christianity and a living, 
Christianity and a career, Christianity and a fiancee, etc. 

It is quite different with the State, which has managed to make syn- 
onymous the notions of Christianity and a living, a bachelor of theology 
and an engagement, etc., etc. And therefore an entirely different kind 
of thing has been got out of Christianity from the moment the State 
took hold. Instead of the bagatelle which was all it came to, with 
Christ especially, but also with the Apostles, when only some few 
Christians were produced, it now went into the millions, millions of 
Christians and 100,000 livings — Christianity is completely triumphant. 

Yes, or else under the name of Christianity a prodigious piece of 
knavery is triumphant. For like that well-known inscription, "This is 
supposed to be Troy," 23 instead of the simple word "Troy," or like the 
title stamped upon the binding of an empty volume, so it is with all 
this about "Christendom." In this way one can introduce any religion 
whatsoever into the world, and Christianity introduced in this way 
is unfortunately exactly the opposite of Christianity. Might there in 
these shrewd times be found even a youth who does not easily under- 


stand that, if the State got the notion, for example, of wanting to intro- 
duce the religion that the moon is made out of a green cheese, and 
to that end were to arrange for 1000 livings for a man with family, 
steadily promoted, the consequence would be — if only the State held 
to its purpose — that after a few generations a statistican would be able 
to affirm that this religion (the moon is made out of a green cheese) 
is the prevailing religion in the land? 

A living — oh, these proofs which are advanced for the truth of 
Christianity, these devilish learned and profound and perfectly con- 
vincing proofs which have filled folios, upon which "Christendom" 
plumes itself as the State does upon the army, what do they all amount 
to in comparison with...a living, and the possibility of a career thrown 
into the bargain? 

A living — and then Juliana, that Frederick and Juliana can come to- 
gether. Oh, these proofs which are advanced for the truth of Christian- 
ity, these devilish learned and profound and perfectly convincing proofs, 
what do they all amount to in comparison with Juliana and the fact 
that in this way Frederick and Juliana can come together? If at any 
moment the thought should struggle in Frederick, "I myself do not really 
believe this doctrine, and then to have to preach it to others" — if such 
thoughts should struggle in Frederick, go to Juliana, she can drive such 
thoughts away. "Sweet Frederick," says she, "only let us manage to 
come together. Why go and torment thyself with such thoughts ? There 
are surely 1000 priests like thee; in short, thou art a priest like the 

In fact Juliana plays a great role in procuring clergy for the State. 
And hence they should have been wary about introducing Juliana, 
and also about introducing livings. For it may be, as Don Juan says to 
Zerline, 24 that only in the soft arms of a blameless wife does true felicity 
reside, and possibly it is true, as both poets and prose writers have 
affirmed, that in these soft arms one forgets the world's alarms; but 
the question is whether there is not also something else one can only 
too easily forget in these soft arms — namely, what Christianity is. And 
the older I grow the clearer it becomes to me that the twaddle into 
which Christianity has sunk, especially in Protestantism, and more 
especially in Denmark, is due in part to the fact that these soft arms 
have come to interfere a little too much, so that for the sake of Chris- 
tianity one might require the respective proprietors of these soft arms 
to retire a little more into the background. 

To get an opportunity to know what the true situation of Christianity 


is in this land, it would be very important if we could manage to thrust 
aside the livings and Juliana so as to be able to see. How desirable it 
would be if the State understood it in this way, if it were to proclaim 
that it felt under obligation to pay the priests with whom it had already 
contracted, in case they thought they must resign from their office! 
There are doubtless many upright and honest men who would feel 
their consciences greatly relieved. And after all it is really the State 
which bears the responsibility, the State which, beckoning seductively, 
has pointed out to inexperienced young bachelors of theology and their 
fiancees a something which, Christianly, is without justification. 
Afterwards (when one has once become pater jamilias, etc.), yes, then 
it is too late, then one hasn't the power to break with this wrong situa- 
tion one innocently got into, but remains in it...with a troubled con- 

True Christians / Many Christians 

[April 9.] 

The interest of Christianity, what it wants, is — true Christians. 

The egoism of the priesthood, both for pecuniary advantage and for 
the sake of power, stands in relation to — many Christians. 

"And that's very easily done, it's nothing at all: let's get hold of the 
children, then each child is given a drop of water on the head — then 
he is a Christian. If a portion of them don't even get their drop, it 
comes to the same thing, if only they imagine they got it, and imagine 
consequently that they are Christians. So in a very short time we have 
more Christians than there are herring in the herring season, Christians 
by the millions, and then, by the power of money as well, we are the 
greatest power the world has ever seen. That thing about eternity is 
definitely the cleverest of all inventions, when it gets into the right 
hands, the hands of practical people; for the Founder, unpractical as he 
was, had a wrong notion of what Christianity is." 

No, rather than this let us stick to what by comparison is angelic 
purity, though the State punishes it with the penitentiary; let us stick 
to enriching ourselves by counterfeiting the custom-house stamps or by 
using abusively the marks of celebrated factories! But to become a 
power and to win the earthly by the use of a false label with reference 
to that which was served by suffering unto the end, to the utmost, to 
the point of being forsaken by God, to use a false label with reference 
to that cause which He in dying upon the cross entrusted to human 
honesty evinced by imitation, and then to do this unmoved by the 
thought that it was Love which suffered, and Love which in dying 
entrusted its cause to human honesty, and unmoved by the thought 
that there would be millions of men who in this way would be swindled 
out of the highest and holiest, would be swindled by being made to 
believe that they were Christians. No, this is horrible. It is true, generally 
speaking, that the greatness of a crime, its meanness, its wide ramifica- 
tions, inflames the policeman, gives him increased zeal; but there is a 
limit, and if the crime exceeds that, the policeman may well have the 
experience, like a man in a swoon, of grasping for something to support 
him, desiring to escape and find in tears relief from what he had never 
before experienced. 

So then this accounts for the millions of Christians, the Christian 
states, kingdoms, lands, a Christian world. But this is only the first 
half of the criminal story; we come now to the refinement. The refine- 


ment is unique in its genre, altogether without analogy; for those who 
enrich themselves by counterfeiting the custom-house stamps or the 
marks of celebrated factories at least do not lay claim to be regarded 
as the most faithful friends of the custom-house or of those factories. 
This is reserved to the Christian counterfeiters. That zeal, the zeal of 
egoism, for making many Christians in a way which is precisely the 
most repugnant to Christianity in its inmost heart, that zeal is bedizened 
as true Christian zeal and jealously for the spread of the doctrine, as 
though it were Christianity one were serving in this way and not rather 
Christianity one was betraying by serving oneself. Nevertheless this 
egoistic zeal was by falsification stamped as Christian zeal, these counter- 
feiters claimed to be regarded as the most faithful friends of Christianity. 
And those unfortunate millions who were cheated out of their money 
and misused as a physical power, while as a recompense they were 
cheated out of the eternal by being put off with some sort of gali- 
matias — these millions worshiped and adored the Christian counter- 
feiters as the true servants of Christianity. 

There are pranks of a child, a boy, which are punished by a box on 
the ear; and it would be pronounced madness if for such a prank the 
father or teacher were to require the child to be punished by a sentence 
to the penitentiary for life. On the other hand, in the case of crimes 
which the State reasonably punishes by a life sentence to the peniten- 
tiary, it would be pronounced madness to think that they would be 
expiated by a box on the ear. But what we never hear a word about 
in our days, in these Christian states and lands, where all priests are 
witnesses to the truth, is that there are crimes with respect to which 
(on other grounds than in the case of the child) it would be a sort 
of madness to apply the punishment of the penitentiary for life, be- 
cause here again the punishment would bear no proportion to the crime. 
The longer I live, the clearer it becomes to me that the real crimes are 
not punished in this world. The child's prank is punished; but that 
after all is not really a crime. The State punishes crimes; but the real 
crimes, in comparison with which the crimes the State punishes can 
hardly be called crimes, are not Time. 

In "Christendom" all are Christians; when all are 

Christians, the New Testament eo ipso does not 

exist, yea, it is impossible 


The Christianity of the New Testament rests upon the assumption 
that the Christian is in a relationship of opposition, that to be a Chris- 
tian is to believe in God, to love Him, in a relationship of opposition. 
While according to the Christianity of the New Testament the Christian 
has all the effort, the conflict, the anguish, which is connected with do- 
ing what is required, dying from the world, hating oneself, etc., he has 
at the same time to suffer from the relationship of opposition to other 
men, which the New Testament speaks of again and again : to be hated 
by others, to be persecuted, to suffer for the doctrine, etc. 

In "Christendom" we are all Christians — therefore the relationship 
of opposition drops out. In this meaningless sense they have got all 
men made into Christians, and got everything Christian — and then 
(under the name of Christianity) we live a life of paganism. They have 
not ventured defiantly, openly, to revolt against Christianity; no, hypo- 
critically and knavishly they have done away with it by falsifying the 
definition of what it is to be a Christian. It is of this I say that it is: 
(i) a criminal case, (2) that it is playing Christianity, (3) taking God 
for a fool. 

Every hour this lasts the crime is continued; every Sunday that 
divine worship is conducted in this manner Christianity is played as a 
game and God is taken for a fool; everyone who participates is partic- 
ipating in playing Christianity and taking God" for a fool, and is thus 
implicated in the Christian criminal case. 

Yea, O God, if there were no eternity — the most untruthful word 
that ever was spoken in the world, Thou, O God of truth, hast spoken: 
Be not deceived, God will not be mocked. 

The difficulty of my task 

[April 18.] 

That the official Christianity, what we call Christianity, is not the 
Christianity of the New Testament, is not a striving after it, has not 
the remotest resemblance to it — nothing is easier to see, and to get men 
to see this clearly I should count a small matter, if there were not a 
very peculiar sort of difficulty involved in it. 

Assuming that what the New Testament understands by Christianity 
and by being a Christian were something quite according to a man's 
taste, something which might thoroughly please and appeal to the nat- 
ural man, almost as if it were his own invention, as though it talked to 
him out of his own heart — well, yes, then we soon shall have every- 
thing as it ought to be. 

But, but, but here lies the difficulty. Precisely what the New Testa- 
ment understands by Christianity and by being a Christian is — and 
this the New Testament makes no effort to conceal but emphasizes 
decisively — what most of all is repugnant to the natural man, is an 
offense to him, against which with wild passion and defiance he must 
revolt, or else cunningly try at any price to be rid of it, as for example 
by the help of a knavish trick, calling Christianity what is the exact 
opposite of Christianity, and then thanking God for Christianity and 
for the great and inestimable privilege of being a Christian. 

So then, when I would make known that what we call Christianity, 
the official Christianity, is not at all the Christianity of the New Testa- 
ment, and when to that end I would point out what the New Testa- 
ment understands by Christianity and by being a Christian, that this 
is sheer anguish, misery, wretchedness (but then true enough it is sure 
of eternity), whereas what we call Christianity is pleasant and merry 
(but then true enough without any assurance of eternity but that of 
the priest) — when I do this, it is unavoidable that most people will con- 
fuse two things which are totally different: that what I prove to be 
Christianity does not please them; and that the question whether it 
pleases them or not has nothing whatever to do with the question what 
the Christianity of the New Testament is. Yea, the fact that it does not 
please them might be regarded as a token that what I call the Chris- 
tianity of the New Testament is the Christianity of the New Testa- 
ment, since the New Testament itself says again and again that it does 
not please man, that it is an offense to him. 

It is verily not for naught I have called this thing about "Christen- 


dom" a criminal case. The preaching of official Christianity has of 
course, as one might expect, not been negligent but has gone about 
its falsification thoroughly — to win men is thus the important thing, 
Christianity is less important. The mode of procedure is this: They set 
human passions in motion, and then what they know appeals to the 
passions they call Christianity, they get that to be Christian — and thus 
they win men to Christianity. 

The Christianity of the New Testament on the contrary is what dis- 
pleases and shocks man in the highest degree. When it is truly preached 
it neither wins men by the millions nor wins reward and profit. In 
every generation that man is a rarity who exercises such a power over 
himself that he can will what is not pleasant to him, that he can hold 
fast that truth which does not please him, hold that it is the truth al- 
though it does not please him, hold that it is the truth precisely because 
it does not please him, and then nevertheless, in spite of the fact that 
it does not please him, can commit himself to it. With most men the 
situation is at once confused; what they must go in for must be some- 
thing which is shown to please them, to appeal to them. 

This is what the Christian counterfeiters aim at. In explaining to 
men what Christianity is they constantly give this turn to the thing: 
That this and this is Christianity you can assure yourself by the fact 
that it appeals to you; conversely, that this and this could not be 
Christianity you can assure yourselves by the fact that it offends you 
in your heart of hearts. 

In this way the priestly corporation which speculates in human 
numbers has won men, made them believe they are Christians by mak- 
ing them believe something under the name of Christianity, something 
which appeals to them! And with that the millions have found them- 
selves content — to be able to be Christians too in such a cheap and 
agreeable way; in a half-hour, and with a turn of the hand, to get the 
whole thing about eternity settled, in order to be thoroughly able to 
enjoy this life. 

Behold, here lies the difficulty. The difficulty by no means consists 
in making it clear that the official Christianity is not the Christianity 
of the New Testament, but in the fact that the Christianity of the New 
Testament and what the New Testament understands by being a 
Christian is the last thing of all to be pleasing to a man. 

And think then what it means to have to make men who are demor- 
alized by this knavish preaching of Christianity, coddled by the notion 
that the token for distinguishing Christianity is that it appeals to one, 


to have to get them to be willing to see what the New Testament under- 
stands by Christianity, to get them to that point while thousands of 
"pastors of souls" want to set everything in motion so as not to lose 
the sheep, and set in motion all passions on the part of the sheep, saying 
that this cannot possibly be Christianity, as you can easily convince 
yourselves, for you feel indeed how it offends you. 

Yea, ye pastors of souls, ye have populated heaven! How empty it 
would have been in the beyond, if ye had not been! And these millions 
whom your care for souls has dispatched to heaven, how they one day 
will thank you and bless you! In German they use the expression "soul- 
selling" for the white-slave trade. In that sense it is figuratively used, 
for really it is bodies that are sold. In the literal sense "soul-selling" is 
appropriately reserved for the pastors of souls. This soul-selling in the 
literal sense is not punished in this world but is honored and revered! 
The greatness of a crime has also a relation to its duration in time; the 
real crimes cannot be punished in time because they need the whole of 
time's duration to become what they are, and if they were punished 
in time, they would be prevented from becoming the real crimes that 
they are — they are punished only by eternity. 

The personal / The official 

Thou who readest this, imagine the following case. There comes to 
thee a man who, without in any way suggesting that he is crazy, says to 
thee quietly, earnestly, but with deep emotion, "Pray for me, O pray 
for me." This likely would make upon thee an almost terrifying im- 
pression. And why? Because thou thyself personally didst get an im- 
pression of a human personality who must presumably be engaged in 
the severest struggle with a personal God, forasmuch as it could occur 
to him to say to another man, Pray for me, O pray for me. 

On the other hand, when thou readest, for example in a "Pastoral 
Letter" 25 "Brethren, include Us in your prayers, as We unceasingly, 
night and day, pray for you and embrace you in Our petitions" — how 
does it come that this presumably makes upon thee no impression at 
all? Surely it comes from the fact that thou hast conceived a suspicion 
that this is a formula, official patter, out of a handbook or a musicbox. 
Ah, of the official one cannot say that it leaves a bad taste in the mouth; 
no, the disgusting thing about the official is that one finds it so insipid 
because it tastes of nothing at all, because one gets no more taste from 
it than (to use an old Danish expression) by putting the tongue out of 
the window to see what the weather is like. 

And so now when the last man the State has engaged as a shepherd 
to walk in velvet to preach that Jesus Christ lived in poverty and com- 
manded, "Follow me," i.e. since Bishop Martensen has presumably 
resolved to fight with all his might. ..for the official, against sects and 
heresies, etc., 20 and since besides him there are hundreds in the service 
of the official — there may well be need of one man who devotes some 
attention to the official. I dare not on this account expect any prefer- 
ment on the part of the State, perhaps rather (be it said between us) 
on the part of our Lord. For believe me that there is nothing, no heresy, 
no sin, nothing whatever so abhorrent to God as the official. And that 
thou canst well understand; for since God is a personal being, thou 
canst well conceive how abhorrent it is to Him that people want to 
wipe His mouth with formulas, to wait upon Him with official solem- 
nity, official phrases, etc. Yea, precisely because God is personality in the 
most eminent sense, sheer personality, precisely for this cause is the 
official infinitely more loathsome to Him than it is to a woman when 
she discovers that a man is making love to her...out of a book of eti- 


No. 5 





We are all Christians — without having so much 
as a suspicion what Christianity is. 

A genius / a Christian. 

The Christianity of the spiritual man / the Chris- 
tianity of us men. 

The Christianity of the New Testament / the 
Christianity of "Christendom." 


When all are Christians, Christianity eo ipso does 
not exist. 




A revolt in defiance / a revolt in hypocrisy, or 
about apostasy from Christianity. 

The taking of an oath, or the official / the personal. 

Newfangled religious assurances (guarantees). 

"Beware of them that like to walk in long robes." 
Mark 12:38; Luke 20:46. 

July 27, 1855. S. Kierkegaard. 

Published by C. A. Reitzel's Estate and Heirs 

Bianco Luno's Press 

From the Journal 


. . . God would be loved. Therefore He wants Christians. To love God 
is to be a Christian. . . . 

Now "man's" knavish interest consists in creating millions and millions 
of Christians, the more the better, all men if possible; for thus the whole 
difficulty of being a Christian vanishes, being a Christian and being a man 
amounts to the same thing, and we find ourselves where paganism ended. 

Christendom has mocked God and continues to mock Him — just as if to 
a man who is a lover of nuts, instead of bringing him one nut with a 
kernel, we were to bring him tons and millions. ..of empty nuts, and then 
make this show of our zeal to comply with his wish. 

XI2 A 390 

We are all Christians — without having so much as a 
suspicion what Christianity is 

Let me illustrate this from merely one point of view. 
ji When Christianity requires us to love our enemies, one might say 
in a certain sense that it had good reason to require this, for God 
would be loved, and (speaking merely in a human way) God is man's 
most redoubtable enemy, thy mortal enemy; He would that thou 
shouldst die, die unto the world, He hates precisely that wherein thou 
naturally hast thy life, to which thou dost cling with all thy joy in living. 

The men who have entered into no relation with God enjoy now — 
frightful irony! — the privilege that God does not torment them in this 
life. No, it is only the men whom He loves, who have entered into rela- 
tion with God, whose mortal enemy (speaking merely in a human way) 
God may be said to be — but for all that out of love. 

But He is thy mortal enemy. He Who is love would be loved by thee. 
This signifies that thou must die, die unto the world, for otherwise thou 
canst not love Him. 

So there He sits, omnipresent and omniscient as He is, and watches 
thee, knowing the least thing that transpires in thee, that indeed He 
does, thy mortal enemy! Beware then of wishing anything, beware of 
fearing anything; for what thou wishest will not be fulfilled, but rather 
the contrary, and what thou fearest, and the more thou fearest only the 
sooner, shall fall upon thee. For He loves thee and would be loved by 
thee, both out of love. But as soon as there is something thou dost wish 
think not of Him, and so also if there is something thou dost fear; or if 
thou dost associate Him with thy wishing and fearing, thou art not 
thinking of Him in and for Himself, that is, thou dost not love Him — 
and He would be loved, out of love He wills it. 

Take an example. Take a prophet. Think then first what it means 
to be a prophet, how severely tried and sacrificed is the life of such a 
man, by the renunciation of pretty much everything we men count 
valuable. Think of the prophet Jonah! Such a severely tried and tor- 
mented man has the modest wish to rest awhile under the shade of a 
tree. He finds this tree, this shade; it was so grateful a relief to him 
that presumably he wished he might hold on to this refreshment, 
feared that it might be taken from him. He scores a hit! God the al- 
mighty at once fixes His attention upon this tree, a worm is commanded 
to sap its root. 


How dreadful (speaking merely in a human way) is God in His 
love, so dreadful it is (speaking merely in a human way) to be loved 
of God and to love God. In the declaration that God is love, the sub- 
ordinate clause is, He is thy mortal enemy. 

and here we are playing the game that we are all Christians, 

that all love God, whereas by God being love and by loving God we 
nowadays understand nothing else but the nauseating syrupy sweets 
in which falsehood's witnesses to the truth are wont to deal. 

Assuming that no God exists, no eternity, no accounting, then the 
official Christianity is a perfectly charming and elegant invention for 
very sensibly making this life as enjoyable as possible, more enjoyable 
than the pagan could have it. For it is well known that what constantly 
troubled the pleasure-loving pagan was this thing of eternity; but the 
official Christianity put such a slant upon this thing of eternity that 
eternity exists precisely for the sake of giving us a thorough relish and 
zest for enjoying this life. 

Just as if one of the composers who compose variations upon one 
or more movements of a funeral march were to take occasion to com- 
pose with free poetic license a dashing gallop — so has the official Chris- 
tianity taken occasion from some sentences in the New Testament 
(this doctrine of a cross and anguish and horror and shuddering before 
eternity) to compose with free poetic license a lovely idyl, with pro- 
creating of children and waltzes, where everything is "so joyful, so 
joyful, so joyful," where the priest (a kind of leader of the town band) 
is willing, for money, to let Christianity (the doctrine of dying unto 
the world) furnish the music for weddings and christenings, where 
everything is joy and mirth in this (according to the teaching of Chris- 
tianity, a vale of tears and a penitentiary), this glorious world (yea, 
according to the New Testament it is a time of probation related to an 
accounting and judgment), a foretaste of the still more joyful eternity 
which the priest guarantees to those families which by their devotion 
to him have evinced a sense for the eternal. 

A genius / a Christian 

That a genius is not something every man is, surely is something 
every man will concede. But that a Christian is something still more 
rare than a genius — this has been clean forgotten, or rather knavishly 
consigned to oblivion. 

The difference between a genius and a Christian is that a genius is 
nature's extraordinary, no man being able to make himself a genius, 
whereas a Christian is freedom's extraordinary, or, more properly, free- 
dom's ordinary, for though it is found extraordinarily seldom, it is 
what everyone ought to be. Therefore God wills that Christianity should 
be preached to all men absolutely, therefore the Apostles are very simple 
men, and the Pattern is in the lowly form of a servant, all this in order 
to indicate that this extraordinary is the ordinary, is accessible to all — 
but for all that a Christian is a thing even more rare than a genius. 

Only be not deceived by the fact that it is accessible to all, possible to 
all, as if from this it followed that it must be an easy sort of thing 
and that there were many Christians. No, it must be possible for all, 
otherwise it would not be freedom's extraordinary, but, for all that, a 
Christian is a thing even more rare than a genius. 

Assuming that it is all as it should be with these battalions of mil- 
lions X millions of Christians, there emerges here an objection which 
is really significant, namely, that the case of Christianity is entirely 
without analogy in the rest of existence. Everywhere else we see the 
monstrous disproportions of existence: the possibility of millions of 
plants is carried away by the wind as the pollen of flowers, millions of 
possibilities of living beings are wasted, etc., etc., thousands X thousands 
of men go to make one genius, etc., always this enormous prodigality. 
Only in the case of Christianity is it different: in the case of what is 
even more rare than a genius it holds good that everyone that is born 
is a Christian. 

Still another objection acquires great significance, if this thing about 
millions of Christians is to be taken as truth. The earth is only a little 
point in the universe — and Christianity would be reserved solely for 
it, and at such an absurdly low price that any and everybody that is 
born is a Christian. 

The matter presents itself in a different light when we perceive that 
to be a Christian is so high an ideality that, instead of the twaddle about 
Christendom and the eighteen centuries of Christian history and the 
claim that Christianity is perfectible, the thesis must be proposed that 


Christianity never came into the world, that it stopped with the Pattern, 
or at the most with the Apostles — but after all they preached it so 
strongly in the direction of extension that the trouble began there. 
For it is one thing to work for extension in such a way that incessantly, 
early and late, one preaches the doctrine to all men; and it is another 
thing to be too hasty in permitting people by hundreds and thousands 
to assume the name of Christians, to give themselves out to be Chris- 
tians. 27 The Pattern's way of preaching was rather different. Absolutely 
as He preached the doctrine to all men, living only for this, just so 
absolutely did He hold back when it was a question of being a disciple 
or of being allowed to call oneself such. Though an assembly of the 
nation had suffered itself to be carried away by Christ's discourse, He 
certainly would not at once have allowed these thousands to call them- 
selves disciples of Christ. No, He would have held back more stoutly. 
Therefore in three and a half years 28 He won only eleven — whereas 
one Apostle in one day, maybe in one hour, wins three thousand dis- 
ciples of Christ. Either the disciple is in this instance greater than the 
master, or the truth is that the Apostle is a little too hasty in striking 
a bargain, a little too hasty in the direction of extension, so that the 
trouble already begins here. 

Only divine authority could impress the human race in such a way 
that the thing of absolutely willing the eternal became absolute serious- 
ness. Only the God-Man can unite these two things: to work absolutely 
for extension, and absolutely to hold back on the question what is to 
be understood by being a disciple. Only the God-Man would be able 
to hold out (if you can imagine it) for a thousand years, and then an- 
other thousand years, working for the spread of the doctrine by preach- 
ing it, though He did not get a single disciple, if He could get them 
only by altering the terms. After all, the Apostle feels some selfish 
need of the relief of getting adherents, of becoming many, which the 
God-Man does not feel, Who has no need of adherents and therefore 
has only the price of eternity, no market price. 

So the matter stood when Christ preached Christianity. The human 
race was absolutely impressed. 

But naturam jurca expellas^ yet it comes back. Man has a tendency 
to invert the situation. Just as a dog which is compelled to walk on two 
feet has every instant a tendency to go again on all four, and does so 
as soon as it sees its chance, waiting only to see its chance, so is Chris- 
tendom an effort of the human race to go back to walking on all fours, 


to get rid of Christianity, to do it knavishly under the pretext that this 
is Christianity, claiming that it is Christianity perfected. 

First they turned out the other side of the Pattern, the Pattern be- 
comes no longer the Pattern but the Mediator, they dwelt upon His 
kind deeds and wished they were in their stead to whom they were 
shown, which is just as preposterous as if when a man is represented 
as a pattern of kindness, one were not willing to look upon him with 
the idea of imitating his kindness but with a view to wishing to be 
in their stead to whom the kindness was shown. 

So then the Pattern passed out. Then they did away also with the 
Apostles as patterns, and thereupon also with the first Christian age as 
a pattern. And so at last they succeeded in getting to the point of going 
again on all fours, and making out that this, precisely this, was true 
Christianity. By the help of dogmas they secured themselves against 
everything which with any semblance of truth could be called a Chris- 
tian pattern, and then they went with full sail in the direction of...per- 

The Christianity of the spiritual man / the 
Christianity of us men 

When I thus confront one Christianity with another, it surely could 
not occur to anyone to misunderstand this, as though now I were in 
agreement with the veterinary surgeon Pastor Fog 30 that there are two 
sorts of Christianity. No, I confront them with the unaltered conviction 
that the Christianity of the New Testament is Christianity, the other 
being a knavish trick, and that they no more resemble one another than 
a square resembles a circle. But my purpose in confronting them is to 
illustrate in a few words the question I raised in an article in the Father- 
land, whether we, i.e. the human race, are not so degenerate that men 
no longer are born who are able to endure this divine thing which is 
the Christianity of the New Testament. If this is so, it erects in the 
simplest possible way an obstacle to the proof offered by the perjured 
priests that the official Christianity is the Christianity of the New Testa- 
ment and that Christianity exists. 

There are two points of difference between the spiritual man and us 
men, to which I would especially draw attention, and thereby in turn 
illustrate the difference between the Christianity of the New Testament 
and the Christianity of "Christendom." 

(i) The spiritual man differs from us men in the fact that (if I may 
so express it) he is so heavily built that he is able to endure a duplication 
in himself. In comparison with him we men are like frame walls in 
comparison with the foundation wall, so loosely and frailly built that 
we cannot endure a duplication. But the Christianity of the New 
Testament has to do precisely with a duplication. 

The spiritual man is able to endure a duplication in himself; by his 
understanding he is able to hold fast to the fact that something is con- 
trary to the understanding, and then will it nevertheless; he is able to 
hold fast with the understanding to the fact that something is an offense, 
and yet to will it nevertheless; that, humanly speaking, something 
makes him unhappy, and yet to will it, etc. But the New Testament is 
composed precisely in view of this. We men on the other hand are not 
able to support or endure a duplication within ourselves; our will 
alters our understanding. Our Christianity therefore, the Christianity 
of "Christendom," takes this into account; it takes away from Chris- 
tianity the offense, the paradox, etc., and instead of that introduces, 
probability, the plainly comprehensible. That is, it transforms Chris- 
tianity into something entirely different from what it is in the New 


Testament, yea, into exactly the opposite; and this is the Christianity 
of "Christendom," of us men. 

(2) The spiritual man differs from us men in being able to endure 
isolation, his rank as a spiritual man is proportionate to his strength 
for enduring isolation, whereas we men are constantly in need of "the 
others," the herd; we die, or despair, if we are not reassured by being 
in the herd, of the same opinion as the herd, etc. 

But the Christianity of the New Testament is precisely reckoned 
upon and related to this isolation of the spiritual man. Christianity in 
the New Testament consists in loving God, in hatred to man, in hatred 
of oneself, and thereby of other men, hating father, mother, one's own 
child, wife, etc., the strongest expression for the most agonizing isola- 
tion. — And it is in view of this I say that such men, men of this quality 
and caliber, are not born any more. 

The Christianity of us men is, to love God in agreement with other 
men, to love and be loved by other men, constantly the others, the 
herd included. 

Let us take an example. In "Christendom" this is what Christianity 
is: a man with a woman on his arm steps up to the altar, where a 
smart silken priest, half educated in the poets, half in the New Testa- 
ment, delivers an address half erotic, half Christian — a wedding cere- 
mony. This is what Christianity is in "Christendom." The Christianity 
of the New Testament would be: in case that man were really able to 
love in such a way that the girl was the only one he loved and one whom 
he loved with the whole passion of a soul (yet such men as this are no 
longer to be found), then, hating himself and the loved one, to let 
her go in order to love God. — And it is in view of this I say that such 
men, men of such quality and caliber, are not born any more. 

The Christianity of the New Testament / the 
Christianity of "Christendom" 

The thought of Christianity was to want to change everything. 

The result of the Christianity of "Christendom" is that everything, 
absolutely everything, has remained as it was, only everything has 
assumed the name of "Christian" — and so (musicians, strike up the 
tune!) we live a life of paganism: Merrily, merrily, merrily, here we 
go round and round; or rather we live a pagan life which is refined 
by eternity, or by the help of the thought that the whole thing is 

Try it, take what you will, and you shall find that it corresponds to 
what I say. 

What Christianity wanted was chastity — to do away with the whore- 
house. The change is this, that the whorehouse remains exactly what 
it was in paganism, lewdness in the same proportion, but it has become 
a "Christian" whorehouse. A whoremonger is a "Christian" whore- 
monger, 31 he is a Christian exactly like all the rest of us; to exclude 
him from the means of grace — "Good God," the priest will say, "what 
would be the end of it if once we were to begin by excluding one con- 
tributing member!" He dies, and exactly in proportion as he pays he 
gets his eulogy at the grave. And after having earned his money in 
so mean and despicable a way (for Christianly considered the priest 
might better have stolen it) the priest hies him home, he is in a hurry, 
he has to go into the church to declaim, or, as Bishop Martensen says, 
to bear witness. 

What Christianity wanted was honesty and fair dealing, to do away 
with swindling — the change effected was this: swindling remained 
exactly as in paganism, the adage is, "In business every man's a thief" — 
every Christian! But swindling assumed the predicate "Christian," 
it became "Christian* swindling" — and the "priest" pronounced a bless- 
ing upon this Christian society, this Christian state, where they swindle 
just as in paganism, and do it also by paying the "priest," who by this 
mark is the biggest swindler, they swindle themselves into the notion 
that this is Christianity. 

What Christianity wanted was earnestness in living, and to do away 
with vain honors and glories — everything remained as it was, the 
change being that it assumed the predicate Christian: the gewgaws 
of knightly orders, titles, rank, etc., became Christian — and the priest 
(of all equivocal characters the most indecent, of all comical things 


the most comical hodgepodge), he is tickled to death when he himself 
is decorated with...the Cross. The Cross! Yes, in the Christianity of 
"Christendom" the Cross has become something like the child's hobby- 
horse and trumpet. 

And so in everything. If in the natural man there is any instinct so 
strong as the instinct of self-preservation, it is the instinct for the prop- 
agation of the race, which therefore Christianity tried to cool off, 
teaching that it is better not to marry, yet, if worse comes to worst, 
it is better to marry than to burn. But in "Christendom" the propaga- 
tion of the race has become the serious business of life, together with 
Christianity; and the priest (this epitome of nonsense enveloped in 
long robes), the priest, the teacher of Christianity, of the Christianity 
of the New Testament, has even got his income fixed in proportion 
to his activity in promoting the propagation of the race, getting a defi- 
nite amount for each child. 

As I have said, just try it, and in everything you will find that it is 
as I have affirmed: the change from paganism is this: that everything 
has remained unchanged, but has assumed the predicate "Christian." 

When all are Christians, Christianity eo ipso 
does not exist 

When once it is pointed out, this is very easily seen, and once seen 
it can never be forgotten. 

Any determinant which applies to all cannot enter into existence 
but must either underlie existence or lie outside as meaningless. 

Take the determinant man. We are all men. This determinant there- 
fore does not enter into human existence, for the human race as a 
whole is subsumed under the generic term "man." This determinant 
lies before the beginning, in the sense of underlying. We are all men — 
and then it begins. 

This is an example of a determinant which applies to all and is under- 
lying. The other alternative was that a determinant which applies to 
all, or by the fact that it applies to all, is meaningless. 

Assume (and let us not haggle over the fact that it is a strange as- 
sumption, we shall have the explanation), assume that we are all 
thieves, what the police call suspicious characters — if that's what we all 
are, this determinant will eo ipso have no effect upon the situation as 
a whole, we shall be living just as we are living, each will then count 
for what he now counts, some (suspicious characters) will be branded 
as thieves and robbers, i.e. within the definition that we are all suspicious 
characters; others (suspicious characters) will be highly esteemed, etc.; 
in short, everything even to the least detail will be as it is, for we are all 
suspicious characters, and so the concept is annulled (Hegel's aufge- 
hoben); when all are that, then to be that:^o; this is not to say that 
it does not mean anything much; no, it means nothing at all. 

It is exactly the same with the definition that we are all Christians. 
If we are all Christians, the concept is annulled, being a Christian is 
something which lies before the beginning, outside — and then it begins, 
we live then the merely human life, exactly as in paganism; the de- 
terminant Christian cannot in any way manage to enter in, for by 
the fact that we all are this it is precisely put outside. 

God's thought in introducing Christianity was, if I may venture to 
say so, to pound the table hard in front of us men. To that end He set 
"individual" and "race," the single person and the many, at odds, set 
them against one another, applied the determinant of dissension; for 
to be a Christian was, according to His thought, precisely the definition 
of dissension, that of the "individual" with the "race," with the millions, 
with family, with father and mother, etc. 


God did it that way, partly out of love; for He, the God of love, 
wanted to be loved but is too great a connoisseur of what love is to 
want to have to order men to love Him by battalions or whole nations, 
as the command, "One, two, three," is given at the church parade. No, 
the formula constantly is: the individual in opposition to the others. 
And partly He did it as the ruler, in order to keep men in check and 
educate them. This was His thought, even though we men might say, 
if we dared, that it was the most annoying caprice on the part of God 
to put us together in this way, or cut us off in this way from what we 
animals regard as the true well-being, from coalescing with the herd, 
everyone just like the others. 

God succeeded in this, he really overawed men. 

But gradually the human race came to itself, and, shrewd as it is, it 
saw that to do away with Christianity by force was not practicable — 
"So let us do it by cunning," they said. "We are all Christians, and so 
Christianity is eo ipso abolished." 

And that is what we now are. The whole thing is a knavish trick; 
these 2000 churches, or however many there are, are, Christianly con- 
sidered, a knavish trick; these 1000 priests in velvet, 32 silk, broadcloth, 
or bombazine, are a knavish trick — for the whole thing rests upon the 
assumption that we are all Christians, which is precisely the knavish 
way of doing away with Christianity. Therefore it is a very peculiar sort 
of euphemism too when we reassure ourselves with the thought that, 
we all will attain blessedness, or say, "I shall become blessed, just like 
all the others"; for when forwarded to heaven with this address, one 
is not received there, does no more go to heaven than one reaches New 
Holland by land. 

A revolt in defiance / a revolt in hypocrisy 


about apostasy from Christianity 

That man is a defiant and refractory creature we know well enough, 
but that in a very high degree he is a shrewd creature — when it comes 
to a question of flesh and blood and earthly well-being — we do not al- 
ways perceive. It is so nevertheless, though at the same time it is true 
that we have reason to deplore man's stupidity. 

When there is something which is distasteful to man, he looks to 
see if the power which commands him is not too great for him to pit 
his power against it. If he is convinced that it is not too great, he revolts 
in defiance. 

But if the power which commands what is distasteful to man is so 
superior to him that he absolutely despairs of making a revolt in defi- 
ance, he resorts to hypocrisy. 

This applies to Christianity. The fact that the apostasy from Chris- 
tianity occurred long ago has not been noticed because the apostasy 
came about, the revolt was made, in hypocrisy. Precisely Christendom 
is the apostasy from Christianity. 

In the New Testament, according to Christ's own teaching, to be a 
Christian is, humanly speaking, sheer anguish, an anguish in compar- 
ison with which all other human sufferings are hardly more than 
child's-play. What Christ speaks of (for he makes no disguise of it) 
is about crucifying the flesh, hating oneself, about suffering for the 
doctrine, weeping and wailing while the world rejoices, about the most 
heart-rending sufferings due to hating father, mother, wife, one's own 
child, about being what the Scripture says of the Pattern (and surely 
to be a Christian must mean corresponding to the Pattern), that He 
is a worm and no man. Hence the reiterated warnings not to be of- 
fended, not to be offended at the fact that what in the highest, the 
divine understanding of it is salvation and help is, humanly speaking, 
so frightful. 

This is what it is to be a Christian. That, however, is hardly a thing 
for us men, such things we might rather pray to be dispensed from. 
Indeed if such exactions had occurred to any human power, man would 
at once have revolted in defiance. But unluckily God is a power against 
which man cannot rebel in defiance. 

So man resorted to hypocrisy. People had not so much as the courage 


and honesty and truth to say to God bluntly, "That I cannot agree to," 
they resorted to hypocrisy and thought they were perfectly secure. 

They resorted to hypocrisy, they falsified the definition of being a 
Christian. To be a Christian, they said, is sheer blessedness. "What 
would I be, O what would I be, if I were not a Christian! Yea, to be 
a Christian is the only thing which gives real significance to life, gives 
a relish to joys, and to sufferings assuagement." 

In that way we all became Christians. And then everything went 
gaily, with fine words and grandiloquent phrases and heavenly glances 
and torrents of tears, all by the artists engaged for this purpose, who 
could not find words to thank God enough for the great privilege that 
we are all Christians, etc. — and the secret was that we have falsified 
the concept of what it is to be a Christian, but hope by knavish and 
hypocritical flattery and sweet words, giving thanks again and again 
that we are. ..the opposite of what God understands by being a Chris- 
tian — by this hoping, deluding ourselves, to put a wax nose on God's 
face; by so heartily thanking Him that we are that, we hope to get out 
of being that. 

Behold, for this reason the church is the most equivocal place. For 
doubtless there are other places which are called "equivocal places" 
but are not really that, the fact that they are called "equivocal" prevents 
them from being really equivocal. A church, on the other hand, that 
is indeed an equivocal place, a royally authorized Christian church in 
"Christendom" is the most equivocal thing that has ever existed. 

For to make a fool of God is not equivocal, but to do that under the 
name of worshiping Him is equivocal; to want to do away with Chris- 
tianity is not equivocal, but it is equivocal to do away with Christianity 
under the name of spreading it; to give money to work against Chris- 
tianity is not equivocal, but it is equivocal to take money for working 
against Christianity under the name of working for it. 

The taking of an oath 


the official / the personal 

Let me relate a little anecdote from the criminal world which is not 
without some psychological interest. 

It was a case where a man could, as the phrase is, "free himself" 
by an oath, that is, free himself temporally by binding himself eternally 
with a perjury. The person in question was sufficiently well known to 
the magistrate and had often been punished. The magistrate did not 
have it in his power to prevent a resort to an oath, but morally was 
fully convinced that it was a false oath. So the man took the oath. 

When the case was concluded his Honor visited the man who 
had been tried, entered into personal conversation with him and said, 
"Wouldst thou dare to give me thy hand on it that what thou hast 
sworn is true?" "No," he replied, "no, your Honor, that I will not do." 

Here is an example of the difference between the official and the 
personal. For one who belongs essentially to the criminal world to 
clear himself by an oath is something official, something he cannot for 
an instant hesitate to do, or harbor the least doubt that it is justifiable, 
for it is something he knows all about by long continued practice; for 
him it is a matter of course, people do such things officially, imperson- 
ally, the trick consists in being deft at giving the case such a turn that 
one can clear oneself by an oath, the taking of an oath is no more than 
saying "Prosit" to one who sneezes, or adding Esq. to a letter. In vain 
the solemnity of an oath seeks to make an impression upon him as a 
personal matter; in vain, for this is a business affair, he himself is official, 
is officially armed against every impression he knows in advance they 
will try to make upon him, and so he officially takes the oath. The 
whole thing, as he understands it, is ex officio. 

But personally, no; personally he cannot make up his mind to con- 
firm solemnly a lie. "Wouldst thou dare to give me thy hand on it?" 
"No, your Honor, that I will not do." 

Everyone who has the least practice will surely concede the truth of 
the assertion that (passing over to an entirely different world) this 
case occurs not too rarely, that one will be able to get a priest to acknowl- 
edge in private conversation (especially if he is personally touched) 
that he has a different conviction from that which he officially pro- 
nounces, or perhaps that he is personally dubious about what he pub- 


licly pronounces with "full conviction." And yet the priest is in fact 
bound by an oath, he has taken an oath which is supposed to give 
assurance that what he publicly pronounces is his sincere conviction. 
Ah, yes, but in the priest-world this thing about taking an oath belongs 
definitely to the official — the thing must be done if one is to get into 
the living. One takes the oath officially, and preaches officially what 
one is bound to by the oath. "But answer me honestly, Pastor B., wilt 
thou give me thy hand on it that this is thy conviction, or wilt thou 
confirm it upon the memory of thy deceased wife — for to me, for my 
own sake, in order that I may put an end to my doubt, it is so im- 
portant for me to learn to know thy true opinion?" "No, my friend; 
no, that I cannot do, thou must not require it of me." 

The taking of an oath — that surely should give complete assurance 
that the thing is personal! However, the oath (the oath which is the 
condition of getting into a living etc., O God, lead us not into tempta- 
tion), the oath is perhaps taken officially. "But is it really thy conviction 
thou dost teach? I adjure thee by the memory of thy deceased wife 
that to help me thou wilt tell me thy honest opinion." "No, my friend, 
that I cannot do." 

Newfangled religious assurances (guarantees) 

Once upon a time, long, long ago, this was the way people under- 
stood it : they required of a man who would be a teacher of Christianity 
that his life too should furnish guarantees for what he taught. 

Now they have got far away from that, the world has become 
shrewder, more serious, has learned to disdain all this petty, morbid 
concern about the personal, has learned to desire only the objective 33 — 
now it is required that the teacher's life shall furnish guarantees that 
what he says is a pleasantry, a dramatic flourish, a divertissement, alto- 
gether objective. 

A few examples. If what you would talk about is that Christianity, 
the Christianity of the New Testament, has a preference for the single 
state, and you yourself are a single man — my dear fellow, that is no 
subject for you to talk about, the congregation might in fact believe 
that it was seriousness, become uneasy, or might feel offended that in 
this way, so unbecomingly, you brought your own personality into it. 
No, it will be a long time before you will be in a position to talk seri- 
ously about that, in such a way as to content the congregation. Wait 
till you already have your first wife under the sod and are a good piece 
along with the second; that is the time for you, then you will step be- 
fore the congregation to teach and "witness" that Christianity has a 
preference for the single state — and you will content the people per- 
fectly; for your life furnishes guarantees that this is foolery, a jollifica- 
tion, or that what you say is interesting. Yes, how interesting! For just 
as in a marriage, if it is to be assured against boredom, if it is to be 
interesting, the husband must be unfaithful to the wife, and the wife 
to the husband, so too the truth only becomes interesting, immensely 
interesting, when a person in an exalted mood lets himself be gripped 
by it, carried away, enchanted — but of course does exactly the opposite 
and is cunningly secured by letting it stop at that. 

If you would talk about the Christian contempt for titles, decorations 
and the tomfoolery of glory...and you yourself are neither a person of 
rank nor anything resembling it — my dear fellow, that is no subject 
for you to talk about, the congregation might in fact believe that it 
was seriousness, or feel offended at your lack of breeding in obtruding 
your own personality. No, wait till you yourself have laid up a store 
of decorations, wait till you are dragging with you such a rigmarole 
of titles that for the multitude of them you hardly know what your 
name is — then is the time, then you will step forward to preach and 


"witness"; for your life furnishes guarantees that this is dramatic en- 
tertainment, an interesting morning's recreation. 

If you would talk about preaching Christianity in poverty, affirming 
that this is the genuine Christian preaching. ..and you literally are a 
poor devil — my dear fellow, this is no subject for you to talk about, 
the congregation might in fact believe that it was seriousness, become 
fearful, feel quite put out and in the highest degree uncomfortable 
at having poverty come to such close quarters with them. No, first 
procure a fat living, and then when you have had that so long that 
you soon will be promoted to a still fatter one, that is the appropriate 
time, then you will appear before the congregation to preach and 
"witness," and you will completely content them; for your life furnishes 
guarantees that the whole thing turns out to be a jest, such as serious 
men might desire once in a while at the theater or in church, in order 
to gather new make money. 

And this is the way they worship God in the churches! And there 
silken and velvet orators weep, they sob, their voice is stifled by tears! 
Oh, in case it is true (and so it is, for God himself says it) that God 
counts the tears of the suffering and puts them in a bottle — then woe 
to these orators, if God has also counted their Sunday tears and kept 
them in a bottle! 34 Yea, woe to us all, in case God really notices these 
Sunday tears, especially those of the orators, but of the audience, too! 
For a Sunday orator would be right in saying (and oratorically it 
would certainly make a brilliant effect, especially when supported by 
tears and that stifled sob), he would be right in saying to the audience, 
"I will collect all the useless tears you have shed in church, and with 
them I will appear accusingly before God at the Day of Judgment" — 
he is right, only do not forget that the orator's own dramatic tears were 
far more pernicious than the light-minded tears of the audience. 

"Beware of them that like to walk in long robes" 

(Mark 12:38; Luke 20:46) 
June 15, 1855. 

Since "witnesses to the truth," as "genuine witnesses," instead of 
uttering a warning against me openly, prefer to be, as they think, all the 
more effective by secrecy, then I shall undertake their business and wit- 
ness aloud, aloud before the whole nation: Beware of the priests! 

Above all beware of the priests! It is a mark of being a Christian 
(if one is to be a Christian in such a sense that it will hold good in the 
Judgment) that one has suffered for the doctrine. But believe me, as 
sure as my name is S0ren Kierkegaard, you can get no official priest 
to say that. Of course not, for that would be suicide. The very instant 
it is said that to suffer for the doctrine is required for being even an 
ordinary Christian, that same instant the whole machinery with the 
1000 livings and functionaries is thrown into confusion, all these was- 
sailers [Levebrpdre — whereas a "living" is Levebr0d] are left destitute. 
Hence you get no official priest to say it. On the other hand, you may 
be fully assured that with all his might he will preach the opposite, 
prevent you from entertaining that thought, so that you may be kept 
in the state which he understands as that of a Christian, a sheep good 
for shearing, an inoffensive mediocrity, to whom eternity is closed. 

Pray believe me. I tender you with my life the security you can de- 
mand; for I am not dealing with you in a finite interest, I am not seek- 
ing to draw you to me in order to found a party, etc. No, I am merely 
doing religiously my duty, and in a certain sense, if only I do it, it is 
indifferent to me, entirely indifferent, whether you comply with what 
I say or not. 

"Beware of them that walk in long robes." It is not necessary to say 
that with these words Christ has no intention of criticizing their dress; 
no, it certainly is not an observation about clothes. Christ had no ob- 
jection to their clothes being long. If the professional attire for priests 
had been short, Christ would have said, "Beware of them that walk in 
short clothes." And if you insist that I go to the extreme to show that 
this is not a criticism of clothes — if the professional attire for priests 
had been to walk without clothes, Christ would have said: "Beware of 
them that walk without clothes." It is the professional dress He would 
swat, indicating it as a distinctive costume — for he understands some- 
thing altogether different by being a teacher. 


Beware of them that like to walk in long robes. A Bible interpretation 
over the teacups will at once seize upon the word "like" and explain 
that Christ had in view only individuals in the professional class, those 
who take vain pride in long robes, etc. No, my good long-robed man, 
that perhaps by great solemnity in the pulpit you can make women and 
children believe, it also corresponds perfectly with the picture of Christ 
which is presented in the Sunday services. But you cannot make me 
believe it; and the Christ of the New Testament does speak in this way. 
He always speaks about the whole order and does not resort to the 
meaningless gabble that there are some members of the order who are 
depraved, which is true at all times of all classes, so that obviously noth- 
ing whatever is said. No, He conceives the order as a whole and says 
that the order as a whole is depraved, so that the order as a whole has 
a depraved liking for walking in long robes, because to be a priest 
in the official sense is exactly the opposite of what Christ understood 
by being a teacher, the latter meaning to suffer for the teaching, the 
former meaning to enjoy the earthly as it is refined by the glory of be- 
ing God's representative. So it is no wonder they like to walk in long 
robes; for all other official positions in life are rewarded only by the 
earthly, but the official clergy take along with them a little of the 
heavenly as a refinement. 

So then in itself it is entirely indifferent whether the professional 
dress is long or short. The decisive point is that when the teacher ac- 
quires "canonicals," a peculiar dress, professional attire, you have official 
worship — and that is what Christ will not have. Long robes, splendid 
churches, etc., all this hangs together, and it is the human falsification 
of the Christianity of the New Testament, a falsification which shame- 
lessly takes advantage of the fact that unfortunately the human mass 
only too easily lets itself be deluded by sense-impressions, and there- 
fore (exactly in opposition to the New Testament) is prone to judge 
true Christianity by sense-impressions. It is the human falsification of 
the Christianity of the New Testament, and it is not true of the clerical 
order as it is of other orders, that there is nothing evil about the order; 
no, the clerical order is, Christian!)' considered, in and for itself of the 
Evil, is a demoralization, a human egoism, which inverts Christianity 
to exactly the opposite of that which Christ had made it. 

But now that long robes have in fact become the official dress for 
priests, one can be sure that there is something in it, and I believe that 


by observing what it implies one can form a very significant conception 
of the nature of official Christianity. 

By long robes one's thought is involuntarily led to the suspicion that 
there is something to be concealed; when one has something to conceal, 
long robes are very convenient — and official Christianity has a prodi- 
gious lot to conceal, for from first to last it is an untruth, which there- 
fore had best be long robes. 

And long robes — in fact that is feminine attire. Thereby thought is 
led on to something which also is characteristic of official Christianity, 
the unmanliness of using cunning, untruth and lies as its power. That 
again is very characteristic of official Christianity, which, being itself 
an untruth, uses a prodigious amount of untruth, both to hide what 
truth is, and to hide the fact that it is untruth. 

And this womanish quality is also in another way characteristic of 
official Christianity. The feminine trait of willing and yet resisting, this 
coquetry which in woman is unconscious, has its unpardonable parallel 
in official, Christianity, which so keenly wills the earthly and the 
temporal, but because of a sense of shame must make out that it does 
not will it, is on the alert to get it, yet secretly, for one must make out — 
God save us! — one must faint, fall into a swoon, when one has to accept 
a high and fat post, which one is so reluctant to assume that only from 
a sense of duty, solely and simply from a sense of duty, one has been 
able to resolve to assume such a post, and that only when one has — 
alas, in vain — sighed upon one's knees before God and begged Him 
to take this cross, this bitter cup, from one and one would find one- 
self perhaps in desperate embarrassment if the government were ironical 
enough to excuse one. 

Finally, there is something equivocal about men in women's clothes. 
One might be tempted to say that it conflicts with the police ordinance 
which forbids men to appear in women's clothes and vice versa. But 
in any case, there is something equivocal — and equivocal is the more 
descriptive term for what official Christianity is, descriptive of the change 
Christianity has undergone in the course of time, that from being what 
it was in the New Testament, namely, simplicity, it has (presumably 
by the aid of its perfectibility) become something more, namely, du- 
plicity, an equivocation. 

Beware therefore of them that like to walk in long robes! According 
to Christ (who surely must know best about the way, since He is the 
Way) the gate is strait, the way is narrow — and few there be that find 


it. And what perhaps most of all has brought it about that the number 
of these few is so small, smaller proportionately with every century, is 
the monstrous illusion which official Christianity has conjured up. Perse- 
cution, maltreatment, bloodshedding, has by no means done such injury, 
no, it has been inestimably beneficial in comparison with the radical 
damage done by official Christianity, which is designed to serve human 
indolence, mediocrity, by making men believe that indolence, medioc- 
rity and enjoyment of life is Christianity. Do away with official Chris- 
tianity, let persecution come — that very instant Christianity again exists. 


No. 6 



Short and sharp. 


A measure of distance, and therewith again about 
the peculiar difficulty I have to contend with. 


Fear most of all to be in error. 


That we ("Christendom") cannot in any wise ap- 

propriate Christ's promises to ourselves, for we 
are not in the place where Christ and the New 
Testament require one to be in order to be a 


What says the Fire Chief? 


Brief observations. 

August 23, 1855. S. Kierkegaard. 


Published by C. A. Reitzel's Estate and Heirs 

Bianco Luno's Press 

From the Journal 


We all know what it is to play warfare in mock battle, that it means to 
imitate everything just as it is in war. The troops are drawn up, they 
march into the field, seriousness is evident in every eye, but also courage 
and enthusiasm, the orderlies rush back and forth intrepidly, the com- 
mander's voice is heard, the signals, the battle cry, the volley of musketry, 
the thunder of cannon — everything exactly as in war, lacking only one 
thing. ..the danger. 

So also it is with playing Christianity, that is, imitating Christian preach- 
ing in such a way that everything, absolutely everything is included in as 
deceptive a form as possible — only one thing is lacking. ..the danger. 

XIi A y 0> xi2 A 289 

Short and sharp 

Christianity is capable of being perfected (it is perfectible) ; it ad- 
vances; now perfection has been attained. What was striven after 
as the ideal, but which even the first age could only approximately 
attain, the ideal that the Christians are a nation of priests, that has now 
been perfectly attained, especially in Protestantism, more especially in 

That is to say, in case what we call a priest is what it really is to be 
a priest...then we are all priests. 

In the magnificent cathedral the Honorable and Right Reverend 
Geheime-General-Ober-Hof-Pradikant, the elect favorite of the fashion- 
able world, appears before an elect company and preaches with emotion 
upon the text he himself elected: "God hath elected the base things of 
the world, and the things that are despised" — and nobody laughs. 


When a man has a toothache the world says, "Poor man"; when a 
man's wife is unfaithful to him the world says, "Poor man"; when a 
man is in financial embarrassment the world says, "Poor man" — when 
it pleased God in the form of a lowly servant to suffer in this world 
the world says, "Poor man"; when an Apostle with a divine commission 

has the honor to suffer for the truth the world says, "Poor man" 

poor world! 


"Had the Apostle Paul any official position?" No, Paul had no official 
position. "Did he then earn much money in other ways?" No, he didn't 
earn money in any way. "Was he at least married?" No, he was not 
married. "But then really Paul is not a serious man." No, Paul is not a 
serious man. 


It is related of a Swedish priest 35 that, profoundly disturbed by the 
sight of the effect his address produced upon the auditors, who were 
dissolved in tears, he said soothingly, "Children, do not weep; the 
whole thing might be a lie." 

1 82 THE INSTANT, NO. 6 

Why does the priest say that no more? No need to, we know it — 
we're all priests. 

But in spite of that we well may weep; both his and our tears may 
be in no way hypocritical, but well-meaning, in the theater. 

When paganism was in dissolution there were a lot of priests, called 
augurs. Of them it is reported that one augur could not look at another 
without smiling. 36 

In "Christendom" before long no one can see a priest, or indeed no 
man look at another, without smiling — but indeed we are all of us 
priests, too. 


Is this the same teaching, when Christ says to the rich young man, 
"Sell all that thou hast, and give it to the poor"; 
and when the priest says, "Sell all that thou hast and...give it to me"? 

Geniuses are like a thunderstorm 37 : they go against the wind, terrify 
people, cleanse the air. 

The Established Church has invented sundry lightning-conductors. 

And it succeeded. Yes indeed, it suceeded; it succeeded in making 
the next thunderstorm all the more serious. 

One cannot live off of nothing. This one hears so often, especially 
from priests. 

And precisely the priests perform this trick: Christianity actually 
does not exist — yet they live off of it. 

A measure of distance 


therewith again about the peculiar difficulty I have 
to contend with 

My dear reader! 

In order to call thy attention to where we are, Christianly, in order 
to give thee an opportunity to measure the distance from the Chris- 
tianity of the New Testament and the primitive age, allow me to make 
use for this purpose of two men who are regarded, each for his own 
sake but in different ways, as representatives of true Christianity, and 
who are universally known. 

Take first Bishop Mynster. In the opinion of pretty much the whole 
population he was regarded as true Christian earnestness and wisdom. 

However, this is the way things stood with Bishop Mynster. All his 
earnestness reached no further than the thought: in a humanly allow- 
able and honest way, or indeed in a humanly honorable way also, to 
get through this life happily and well. 

But this view of life is not at all that of the New Testament or of 
primitive Christianity. Primitive Christianity has such a militant attitude 
towards the world that its view is: not to want to slip through this world 
happily and well, but precisely to be on the alert to conflict with this 
world in dead earnest, so that after having thus fought and suffered, 
one might be able to face the Judgment, where the Judge (whom, 
according to the New Testament, one can love only by hating this 
world and one's own life in this world) will judge whether one has 
accomplished His will. 

So there is a difference as wide as the earth, as wide as heaven, be- 
tween the Mynsterish life -view (which properly is Epicureanism, en- 
joyment of life and the lust for life, belonging to this world) and the 
Christian view, which is that of suffering, of enthusiasm for death, 
belonging to the other world; yea, there is such a difference between 
these two life-views that the latter (if it were taken seriously, and not 
at the very most expressed rarely in a quiet hour) must appear to 
Bishop Mynster as a kind of madness. 

Measure now, and thou wilt see that what under the name of Mynster 
thou art wont to regard as Christian earnestness and wisdom is, Chris- 
tianly measured, lukewarmness and indifferentism. For thus indeed 
it is the difference must be described, as the difference between the will 


to contend in mortal combat with this world, not to be willing at any 
price to make friendship with this world (the Christian requirement), 
and, on the other hand, the will to slip through this world happily and 
well, at the utmost contending a little bit when this might contribute 
to slipping through this world happily and well. 

Then take Pastor Grundtvig. G. is in fact regarded as a "sort of an 
Apostle," 38 representing enthusiasm, the courage of faith which fights 
for a conviction. 

Let us now look more closely. The highest thing he has fought for 
is to get leave for himself and those who want to join him to state 
what he understands by Christianity. For this cause he would throw 
off the yoke which the State Church laid upon him. It shocked him 
that they wanted to use the police power to prevent him from exercis- 
ing his freedom. 

Good. But, if then G., for himself and his party, had attained what 
he wanted, it also was his notion to let the whole monstrous illusion 
remain in force, that the State makes itself out to be Christian, the people 
imagine that they are Christians, in short, that every blessed day an 
insult is offered to God, the crime of lese-majeste is committed by falsify- 
ing the conception of what Christianity is. To fight on that front surely 
never occurred to G. No, freedom for himself and whoever might be 
in agreement with him, freedom to state what he and those with him 
understood by Christianity, that is the utmost he has willed — and then 
he would be tranquil, tranquillized in this life, belonging to his family, 
and in other respects living like those who are essentially at home in 
this world, and perhaps would call his tranquillity tolerance, tolerance 
towards the others. ..the other Christians. 

Think now what passion there was in primitive Christianity, with- 
out which it never would have come into the world; propose to one 
of those figures the question, "Dare a Christian tranquillize himself 
in this way?" "Abominable," he would reply, "horrible, that a Christian, 
if only he might be allowed for himself to live as he would, that a 
Christian should tranquilly keep silent in the face of the fact that God 
every day is mocked by people pretending by millions to be Christians 
and worshiping Him by taking Him for a fool, that in the face of that 
he should keep silent, and not instantly — for the honor of God — venture 
sufiferingly in among those millions, gladly suffering for the doctrine!" 
For let us not forget that whereas in one sense Christianity is doubtless 
the most tolerant of all religions, inasmuch as most of all it abhors the 
use of physical power, it is in another sense the most intolerant, inas- 


much as its true confessors recognize no limit with respect to compelling 
others by suffering themselves, compelling others by suffering their ill- 
treatment and persecution. 

Measured by this measure, it is easily seen that G. can never properly 
be said to have fought for Christianity; he really only fought for some- 
thing earthly, civil freedom for himself and his adherents; and he has 
never fought with Christian passion. No, in comparison with the passion 
of primitive Christianity G.'s passion is lukewarmness and indiffer- 

What deceives us with respect both to Mynster and to Grundtvig 
is that, living in an age which had no notion whatever of primitive 
Christianity, they have by comparison with such an age attained respec- 
tively a reputation for earnestness and wisdom, and for enthusiasm and 
the courage of faith. 

But if it is true that in a given age the two most prominent representa- 
tives of Christianity, who are regarded as earnestness and wisdom, 
enthusiasm and the courage of faith, must when measured by the 
measure of primitive Christianity be said to be lukewarmness and in- 
differentism, one gets from this a conception of the whole age and of 
the peculiar difficulty I have to contend with. 

The difficulty consists in the fact that the whole age has sunk into 
the profoundest indifferentism, has no religion whatever, is not even 
in a condition for religion. 

The misleading thing is that they call themselves "Christians," and 
that the people are not conscious of what indifferentism properly is, 
or that this is the most pernicious form of indifferentism. 

By indifferentism one commonly understands having no religion at 
all. But resolutely and definitely to have no religion at all is something 
passionate, and so is not the most dangerous sort of indifferentism. 
Hence too it occurs rather rarely. 

No, the most dangerous sort of indifferentism and the most common 
is to have a particular religion, but a religion which is watered down 
and garbled into mere twaddle, so that one can hold this religion in a 
perfectly passionateless way. That is the most dangerous sort of in- 
differentism; for precisely by having this trumpery under the name 
of religion, a person, so he thinks, is secured, made inaccessible, against 
the reproach of having no religion. 

All religion has to do with passion, with having passion. It will be 
true therefore of every religion, especially in ages of rationalism or 
common sense, that it has only very few genuine adherents. On the 

1 86 THE INSTANT, NO. 6 

other hand, there are thousands who take a little something out of that 
religion, and then dispassionately (i.e. irreligiously, indifferently) have... 
that religion. That is to say, by having that religion they are (though 
they are completely indifferent) assured against the reproach of having 
no religion. 

Herein lies the difficulty I have to contend with, a difficulty like that 
of punting a boat off a shoal where the ground on all sides is quaking 
bog, so that when the pole is thrust down it gives way and offers no 

What I have before me is indifferentism, the profoundest, the most 
pernicious and the most dangerous sort of indifferentism. It is a society 
of which the Apostle Paul would say, "Christians! These men Chris- 
tians! Why, they have no religion at all, they are not even in a condition 
to have religion!" A society of which Socrates would say, "They are not 
men, but inhumanized by being the public." 

They all of them arc.the public. This human question, whether in 
and for itself an opinion is true, does not concern them; what concerns 
them is, how many hold this opinion. Aha! For number decides whether 
an opinion has physical might; and that is what concerns them through 
and through, down to the individual in the nation — ah, there is no in- 
dividual, every individual is the public. 

So in the end it becomes a sort of sensual pleasure, corresponding to 
the pleasure it must have been to be a spectator of the fights of wild 
beasts in the Roman circus, it becomes a sort of sensual pleasure to 
witness in the capacity of "the public" this fight, where a single man 
who only has strength of spirit and at no price would have any other, 
is fighting for that religion which is the religion of sacrifice against this 
gigantic corpus of iooo tradesmen-priests, who decline with thanks 
the offer of spirit, but heartily thank the Government for salary, titles, 
decorations, and the congregation for...their sacrifice, the offering. 

And because the situation on the whole is this, namely, the pro- 
foundest indifference, it is made in turn all too easy for the individual 
who is a trifle more advanced to become self-important, as though 
he were the earnest man, a man of character, etc. — There is a young 
man — he feels indignant about the general lukewarmness and indif- 
ference, he an enthusiast and would also express his enthusiasm, he 
ventures. express it anonymously. Well-meaning as he doubtless is, 
and that's the pleasing part about it, it perhaps escapes his notice that 
this is rather weak, and he lets himself be deluded by the consideration 
that in comparison with the prevailing lukewarmness this appears to 


be something. — Or it is an older man, an earnest citizen, he is shocked 
at the lukewarmness and indifference of many people who would rather 
hear nothing about religion. He on the contrary reads, procures what- 
ever is published, talks about it, declaims zealously. the parlor; and 
it perhaps escapes his notice that, Christianly, this is not really earnest- 
ness, that it is earnestness only in comparison with that which never 
ought to be used for comparison if one would go forward; for that for- 
ward striving only becomes possible by comparison with what is ahead, 
the more advanced. 

"Yea, O God, if Thou wert not omnipotence which is able omnip- 
otently to compel, and if Thou wert not love which is able irresistibly 
to move the heart! . . . But Thy love moves me, the thought of daring 
to love Thee prompts me to accept my lot joyfully and thankfully, to 
be a sacrifice, sacrificed on behalf of a generation," etc. Cf. "This Has 
To Be Said" [the last paragraph]. 

Fear most of all to be in error 

This, as everyone knows, is a saying of Socrates: he feared most of 
all to be in error. 

Doubtless in one sense Christianity does not teach men to fear, it 
even teaches them not to fear those who are able to kill the body; yet 
in another sense it inculcates a still greater fear than that of Socrates, 
it teaches us to fear him who is able to cast both soul and body into hell. 

First, however, that which is first, namely, to become mindful of the 
Christianity of the New Testament, and to this thou wilt be helped by 
that Socratic fear, fearing most of all to be in error. 

If thou hast not that fear, or (not to pitch the note too high) if it is 
not thus with thee, if this is not what thou wilt, if thou wilt not strive 
to pluck up courage to "fear most of all to be in a delusion" — then 
have nothing to do with me. No, remain then with the priests, let them 
convince thee firmly, the sooner the better, that what I say is a kind 
of madness (for the fact that it stands in the New Testament is com- 
pletely a matter of indifference — when the priest is bound by an oath 
upon the New Testament, thou art perfectly insured that nothing 
which stands in the New Testament is suppressed), remain with the 
priests, try with all thy might to fix it in thy mind that Bishop Mynster 
was a witness to the truth, one of the genuine witnesses, a link in the 
holy chain, Bishop Martensen ditto, ditto, likewise every priest, and 
that the official Christianity is the saving truth; that the reason why 
Christ suffered the most frightful agony upon the cross, even being for- 
saken by God, breathing out His life upon the cross, was in order that 
we might be encouraged to spend our time, our effort, our powers, in 
enjoying this life wisely and in good taste; that the purpose of His 
coming into the world was really to encourage the procreation of chil- 
dren, wherefore it is said also that "it is not convenient that any man 
be made a priest who is unmarried"; that the never to be forgotten 
significance of His life is that by His death {Des einen Tod, des andern 
Brotl) He made possible a new way of livelihood, that of the priests, 
which may be considered one of the most profitable, seeing that it also 
offers employment to the greatest number of tradesmen, forwarding 
agents, shippers, whose Geschaft (in return for an almost incredibly 
reasonable compensation, considering the importance of the journey, 
the length of the way, the glory of the place of arrival, and the duration 
of the stay) is to ship people to the blessedness of eternity, a Geschaft 
which, unique in its kind, has in comparison with all exportations to 


America, Australia, etc., the inestimable advantage which secures the 
shipping agents against even the mere possibility of falling into dis- 
credit for the fact that one has absolutely no advice that the goods have 
reached their destination. 

If on the contrary thou hast courage to will to have this courage which 
fears most of all to be in error, then thou wilt also be able to know the 
truth concerning what it is to become a Christian. The truth is that to 
become a Christian is to become unhappy for this life. The situation is 
this : the more thou hast to do with God, and the more He loves thee, 
the more wilt thou become, humanly speaking, unhappy for this life, 
the more thou wilt have to suffer in this life. 

And this thought, which to be sure casts a rather disturbing light 
(as the Christianity of the New Testament is bound to do) upon the 
jocund traffic of this cheerful, child-begetting, career-making gang of 
priests, and like a flash of lightning illuminates through and through 
this fantastic deception, masquerade, the society game, the foolery about 
"Christendom" (the stronghold of all the illusions), Christian states, 
lands, a Christian world — this thought for a poor man is so frightful, 
deadly, almost superhumanly taxing to his strength. This I know by 
experience, in two ways. First for the reason that I am unable to endure 
this thought, and therefore merely investigate this true definition of 
what it is to become a Christian,* whereas for my part I help myself 
to endure sufferings by a much easier thought, one which is Jewish, 
not in the highest sense Christian, the recognition that I suffer for my 
sins. And in the second place, by the conditions of my own life I was 
led in a very special way to observe it. If it were not for that, I should 
never have observed it, and still less should I have been able to endure 
the pressure of that thought; but, as has been said, I was helped by the 
conditions of my own life. 

The conditions of my own life, as has been said, were the rudiments 
of my learning; by the help of them, in proportion as I was developed 
in the course of years, I became more and more observant of Chris- 
tianity and of the definition of what it is to become a Christian. For 
according to the New Testament what is it to become a Christian? 
whereto the oft repeated warnings not to be offended? whence the 

* Therefore neither do I call myself yet a Christian, I am still far behind. But one 
advantage I have over all official Christianity (which moreover is bound by an oath upon 
the New Testament), that I report truly what Christianity is, and so do not take the 
liberty of altering what Christianity is, and I report truly how I am related to what 
Christianity is, and so do not take part in altering what Christianity is in order to win 
millions of Christians. 


frightful collisions (hating father, mother, wife, child, etc.), in which 
the New Testament lives and breathes? Surely both are accounted for 
by the fact that Christianity knows well that to become a Christian is, 
humanly speaking, to become unhappy for this life, yet blissfully ex- 
pectant of an eternal blessedness. For according to the New. Testa- 
ment what is it to be loved by God ? It is to become, humanly speaking, 
unhappy for this life, yet blissfully expectant of an eternal blessedness — 
in no other way can God Who is spirit love a man. He makes thee un- 
happy, but He does it out of love — blessed is he who is not offended! 
And according to the New Testament what is it to love God? It is 
to will to become, humanly speaking, unhappy for this life, yet blissfully 
expectant of an eternal blessedness — in no other way can a man love 
God who is spirit. And only by the help of this canst thou see that the 
Christianity of the New Testament does not exist, that the little reli- 
giousness there is in the land is at the very most...Judaism. 

That we ("Christendom") cannot in any wise appro- 
priate Christ's promises to ourselves, for we are 
not in the place where Christ and the New 
Testament require one to be in order 
to be a Christian 

Imagine that there was a mighty spirit who had promised to certain 
men his protection, but upon the condition that they should make their 
appearance at a definite place where it was dangerous to go. Suppose 
that these men forbore to make their appearance at that definite place, 
but went home to their parlors and talked to one another in enthusiastic 
terms about how this spirit had promised them his potent protection, 
so that no one should be able to harm them. Is not this ridiculous? 

So it is with "Christendom." Christianity and the New Testament 
understood something perfectly definite by believing; to believe is to 
venture out as decisively as it is possible for a man to do, breaking with 
everything a man naturally loves, breaking, in order to save his own 
soul, with that in which he naturally has his life. But to him who be- 
lieves is promised also assistance against all danger. 

But in "Christendom" we play at believing, play at being Christians; 
as far as possible from any breach with what we love, we remain at 
home, in the parlor, in the old grooves of finiteness — and then we go 
and twaddle with one another, or let the priest twaddle to us, about 
all the promises which are found in the New Testament, that no one 
shall harm us, that the gates of hell shall not prevail against us, against 
the Church, etc. 

"That the gates of hell shall not prevail against His Church," are 
words of Christ which recently have been cited again and again against 
me 39 and my affirmation that Christianity simply does not exist. 

My answer is that this promise does not help us in the least, for the 
twaddle we are living in, as though that is what it means to be a 
Christian, is not at all what Christ and the New Testament understand 
by being Christians. 

Venture out so decisively that thou breakest with all the temporal 
and the finite, with all a man commonly lives for and in, venture out so 
decisively in order to become a Christian, and then wilt thou (this is 
the teaching of Christianity), then (this is the first thing) thou wilt 
thereby come into conflict with the devil and the powers of hell (which 
the "Christendom" of nincompoops does to be sure avoid). But then 


also God the Almighty will not let thee out of His hand but will help 
thee marvelously; and be thou convinced that the gates of hell shall 
never prevail over the Church of Christ. 

But "Christendom" is not the Church of Christ, neither do I say that 
the gates of hell have prevailed against the Church of Christ. Not by 
any means. No, I say that "Christendom" is twaddle which has clung 
to Christianity like a cobweb to a fruit, and now is so polite as to want 
to be mistaken for Christianity, just as if the cobweb were to think it 
was the fruit because it is a thing not nearly so nice which hangs on 
the fruit. The sort of existence which the millions of "Christendom" 
give evidence of has absolutely no relation to the New Testament, it is 
an unreality which has no claim upon the promises which apply to be- 
lievers; yes, an unreality, for true reality is only there where a man has 
ventured as Christ requires — and then too the promises at once apply 
to him. But "Christendom" is the disgusting foolery of willing to re- 
main wholly in finiteness and then. ..allege the promises of Christ. 

If it were not a matter so easily checked, these legions of Christians 
or the priestly patter which is preached to them would presumably 
affirm also that these Christians are able to perform miracles; for this 
indeed was promised by Christ to believers, He left the world precisely 
with the words (Mark 16:17, J 8) tnat these signs should follow them 
that believe, "In My name they shall cast out devils, they shall speak 
with new tongues, they shall take up serpents, and if they drink any 
deadly thing, it shall in no wise hurt them; they shall lay hands on 
the sick, and they shall recover." But this is exactly the way it stands 
also with the promise that the gates of hell shall not prevail over Christ's 
Church. Both promises apply only to what the New Testament under- 
stands by believers, not to the priestly swindle with these battalions 
of Christians, which, corresponding to the distinction between "Sunday- 
hunters" and real hunters, may be called Sunday-Christians. But for 
this sort of beings Satan doesn't take the trouble to fish, he sees very 
well that twaddle has caught them. In view of this it is no less than 
ludicrous that in reliance upon Christ's promises they think themselves 
secured against the gates of hell. 

What says the Fire Chief? 40 

That when in any way one has what is called a cause, something 
he earnestly wishes to promote — and then there are others who propose 
to themselves the task of counteracting it, hindering it, harming it, that 
he then must take measures against these enemies of his, this everyone 
is aware of. But not everyone is aware that there is such a thing as 
honest good-intention which is far more dangerous and as if especially 
calculated with a view to preventing the cause from becoming truly 

When a man suddenly falls ill, well-meaning persons hasten at once 
to lend aid, one proposes one thing, and one another, if all of them had 
leave to advise at once, the patient's death would be certain; the well- 
meant advice of the individual may in itself be dangerous, in any case 
their bustling, flurried presence is injurious for the fact that it impedes 
the physician. 

So also in the case of a fire. Hardly is the cry of "Fire!" heard before 
a crowd of people rush to the spot, nice, cordial, sympathetic, helpful 
people, one has a pitcher, another a basin, the third a squirt, etc., all 
of them nice, cordial, sympathetic, helpful people, so eager to help put 
out the fire. 

But what says the Fire Chief ? The Fire Chief, he says — yes, generally 
the Fire Chief is a very pleasant and polite man; but at a fire he is 
what one calls coarse-mouthed — he says, or rather he bawls, "Oh, go to 
hell with all your pitchers and squirts." And then, when these well- 
meaning people are perhaps offended and require at least to be treated 
with respect, what then says the Fire Chief? Yes, generally the Fire 
Chief is a very pleasant and polite man, who knows how to show every- 
one the respect that is due him; but at a fire he is rather different — 
he says, "Where the deuce is the police force?" And when some police- 
men arrive he says to them, "Rid me of these damn people with their 
pitchers and squirts; and if they won't yield to fair words, smear them 
a few over the back, so that we may be free of them and get down to 

So then at a fire the whole way of looking at things is not the same 
as in everyday life. Good-natured, honest, well-meaning, by which in 
everyday life one attains the reputation of being a good fellow, is at a 
fire honored with coarse words and a few over the back. 

And this is quite natural. For a fire is a serious thing, and whenever 


things are really serious, this honest good-intention by no means suffices. 
No, seriousness applies an entirely different law: either/or. Either thou 
art the man who in this instance can seriously do something, and seri- 
ously has something to do/or, if such be not thy case, then for thee 
the serious thing to do is precisely to get out. If by thyself thou wilt 
not understand this, then let the Fire Chief thrash it into thee by means 
of the police, from which thou mayest derive particular benefit, and 
which perhaps may after all contribute to making thee a bit serious, 
in correspondence with the serious thing which is a fire. 

But as it is at a fire, so also it is in matters of the mind. Wherever 
there is a cause to be promoted, an undertaking to be carried out, an 
idea to be introduced — one can always be sure that when he who really 
is the man for it, the right man, who in a higher sense has and must 
have command, he who has seriousness and can give to the cause the 
seriousness it truly has — one can always be sure that when he comes 
(if I may so put it) to the spot, he will find there before him a genial 
company of twaddlers who under the name of seriousness lie around 
and bungle things by wanting to serve the cause, promote the under- 
taking, introduce the idea; a company of twaddlers who of course re- 
gard the fact that the person in question will not make common cause 
with them (precisely indicating his seriousness) as a certain proof that 
he lacks seriousness. I say, when the right man comes he will find things 
thus. I can also give this turn to it: the fact that he is the right man 
is really decided by the way he understands himself in relation to this 
company of twaddlers. If he has a notion that it is they who are to help, 
and that he must strengthen himself by union with them, he eo ipso 
is not the right man. The right man sees at once, like the Fire Chief, 
that this company of twaddlers must get out, that their presence and 
effect is the most dangerous assistance the fire could have. But in mat- 
ters of the mind it is not as at a fire, where the Fire Chief merely has 
to say to the police, "Rid me of these men." 

So it is in all matters of the mind, and so it is also in the religious 
field. History has so often been compared with what the chemists call 
a process. The metaphor may be quite suggestive, if only it is under- 
stood aright. They speak of a filtering process: water is filtered, and in 
the process it deposits impure ingredients. It is precisely in an opposite 
sense that history is a process. The idea is introduced — and with that 
it enters into the process of history. But unfortunately this does not (as 
one ludicrously assumes) result in the purification of the idea, which 


never is purer than in its primary form. No, it results, with steadily 
increasing momentum, in garbling the idea, in making it hackneyed, 
trite, in wearing it out, in introducing the impure ingredients which 
originally were not present (the very opposite of filtering), until at 
last, by the enthusiastic cooperation and mutual approbation of a series 
of successive generations the point is reached where the idea is entirely 
extinguished and the opposite of the idea has become what they now 
call the idea, and this they maintain has been accomplished by the 
historical process in which the idea has been purified and refined. 

When at last the right man comes, he to whom in the highest sense 
the task belongs, who perhaps was early selected and slowly educated 
for this task, which is to let in light upon the affair, to set fire to this 
wilderness which is the asylum of all twaddle, all illusions, all knavish 
tricks — when he comes he will already find there before him a com- 
pany of twaddlers who with cheerful cordiality have a sort of a notion 
that things are wrong, or are prepared to chatter about things being 
dreadfully wrong, and to be self-important for chattering about it. In 
case he, the right man, for a single instant sees amiss and thinks that 
it is this company that is to be a help, he is eo ipso not the right man. 
In case he makes a mistake and has anything to do with them, divine 
governance will instantly let go of him as unfit. But the right man sees 
with half an eye, as does the Fire Chief, that this company which well- 
meaningly would help to put out a fire with pitchers and squirts, that 
this same company which in the present instance, where it is not a 
question of extinguishing a fire but precisely of lighting a fire, would 
lend aid with a sulphur match without the sulphur, or with a damp 
paper-lighter, must get out, that he must not have the least thing to do 
with this company, that he must be as coarse-mouthed with them as 
possible, he who perhaps is usually anything but that. But everything 
depends upon getting rid of that company; for the effect of it is, in the 
form of hearty sympathy, to eradicate the real seriousness from the 
cause. Naturally the company will then rave against him, against this 
frightful pride, 41 etc. But to him this must make no difference. Where- 
ever there truly must be seriousness the law is this: either/or; either I 
am the one who seriously has to deal with the matter, is thereto called 
and is absolutely willing to venture decisively/or, if such is not my 
case, then seriousness is, not to engage in it at all. Nothing is more de- 
testable and more vile, both betraying and bringing about a deeper 
demoralization, than this: to want to have somehow a little part in 


that which must be aut / aut; aut Caesar / aut nihil? 1 to want to have 
somehow a little part, and then with good-hearted moderation to prate 
about it, and so by this prattle to pretend mendaciously that one is 
better than those who have nothing to do with the whole concern — 
pretend to be better, and make the thing more difficult for him who 
properly has the task to do. 

Brief observations 

The Biblical interpretation of mediocrity. 

The Biblical interpretation of mediocrity goes on interpreting and 
interpreting Christ's words until it gets out of them its own spiritless 
[trivial] meaning — and then, after having removed all difficulties, it 
is tranquillized, and appeals confidently to Christ's words! 

It quite escapes the attention of mediocrity that hereby it generates 
a new difficulty, surely the most comical difficulty it is possible to 
imagine, that God should let himself be born, that the Truth should 
have come into the world. order to make trivial remarks. And like- 
wise the new difficulty as to how one is to explain that Christ could be 
crucified. For it is not usual in this world of triviality to apply the pen- 
alty of death for making trivial remarks, so that the crucifixion of 
Christ becomes both inexplicable and comical, since it is comical to be 
crucified because one has made trivial remarks. 

The theater / The church. 

The difference between the theater and the church is essentially this, 
that the theater honestly and honorably acknowledges itself to be what 
it is; on the other hand the church is a theater which dishonestly tries 
in every way to hide what it is. 

For example. On the theater-board is always plainly written: "Money 
will not be returned." The church, this solemn sanctity, would shudder 
at the scandal, the offensiveness, of writing this over the church door, 
or having it printed under the list of preachers for Sundays. But yet 
the church does not shudder at insisting, perhaps more strictly than 
the theater, that money will not be returned. 

It is lucky therefore that the church has the theater alongside of it; 
for the theater is a wag, really a sort of witness to the truth, which 
gives the secret away. What the theater says openly, the church does 



God /The world. 

If two men were to eat nuts together, and the one liked only the shell, 
the other only the kernel, one may say that they match one another 
well. What the world rejects, casts away, despises, namely, the sacrificed 
man, the kernel — precisely upon that God sets the greatest store, and 
treasures it with greater zeal than does the world that which it loves 
with the greatest passion. 


No. 7 


i. Why does "man" love the "poet" above all? and 
why, speaking in a godly sense, is precisely the 
"poet" the most dangerous? 

2. Fishers of men. 

3. The sort of person they call a Christian. 

4. "First the kingdom of God." A kind of novel. 

5. That "Christendom" is from generation to genera- 

tion a society of non-Christians; and the for- 
mula in accordance with which this comes 

6. Confirmation and the wedding: a Christian com- 

edy — or something worse. 

7. That the Christian education of children in the 

Christian home, so much extolled, especially 
in Protestantism, is based upon a lie, a sheer lie. 

8. The truth about the "priest's" importance to so- 


9. About the interest which is shown for my cause. 

August 30, 1855. S. Kierkegaard. 


Published by C. A. Reitzel's Estate and Heirs 

Bianco Luno's Press 

From the Journal 


. . . The punishment I could wish to inflict upon the priests would be: 
to provide each one of them ten times the income he now has. ..but not a 
person in the church. But naturally I must fear that neither the world nor 
the priests would understand this punishment, ideal as it would be. 

If somebody — let us make the thought-experiment — if somebody were 
able to prove conclusively that Christ never existed at all, nor the Apostles 
either, that the whole thing was a fabrication — in case on the part of the 
State and the congregation there was no hint of suppressing the livings — 
I should like to see how many priests would lay down their office. 

The machine with the iooo livings goes buzzing on quite calmly. This 
is perfectly possible when it is a question of "spirit." The fact that one 
lacks an arm or a leg cannot pass unnoticed; but the "spirit" may pcrfecdy 
well have vanished — and the machine continues to go. 

XI 2 A 22, X* A 571 

Why does "man" love the "poet" above all? 


why, speaking in a godly sense, is precisely the 
"poet" the most dangerous? 

answer: Precisely for this reason is the poet the most dangerous, in 
iia godly sense, because man loves the poet above all. 

And for this reason man loves the poet above all, because he is the 
most dangerous. For it is an ordinary accompaniment of illness to de- 
sire most vehemently, to love most of all, precisely that which is in- 
jurious to the sick man. But, spiritually understood, man in his natural 
condition is sick, he is in error, in an illusion, and therefore desires 
most of all to be deceived, so that he may be permitted not only to re- 
main in error but to find himself thoroughly comfortable in his self- 
deceit. And a deceiver capable of rendering him this service is precisely 
the poet; therefore man loves the poet above all. 

The poet has to do only with the imaginative powers, he depicts the 
good, the beautiful, the noble, the true, the sublime, the unselfish, the 
magnanimous, etc., in a mood as remote from reality as imagination 
is. And at this distance how charming is the beautiful, the noble, the 
unselfish, the magnanimous! On the other hand, if it is brought so 
close to me that it would compel me as it were to make it reality, be- 
cause he who depicted it was not a poet but a man of character, a wit- 
ness to the truth, who himself made it reality — frightful! That would 
be unendurable! 

In every generation there are very few so hardened and depraved 
that they would have the good, the noble, etc., clean done away with; 
but also in every generation there are only very few so serious and 
honest that they truly wish to make the good, the noble, etc., a reality. 

"Man" does not desire that the good be so far away as those first 
few, but neither would he have it so near as those last few. 

Here is the place of the poet, the beloved foundling of the human 
heart. That he is, and how can we wonder at it ? For the human heart, 
among other qualities, has one which, to be sure, is rather rarely men- 
tioned (but this after all is obviously the effect of the same quality), 
the quality of refined hypocrisy. And the poet is the fellow who can 
play the hypocrite with men. 

That which, if it is made into reality, is the most dreadful suffering, 
the poet is able to transform dexterously into the most refined enjoy- 


ment. To renounce the world in no joke. But, while secure 
in the possession of this world, to revel in sentiment along with the 
poet in a "quiet hour," that is the most refined enjoyment. 

And it. is by this kind of worship we have reached the point of 

being all Christians. That is to say, all this thing about "Christendom," 
Christian states, lands, State Church, National Church, etc., is removed 
from reality by the whole distance of imagination, it is. ..a conceit, and, 
Christianly, a conceit so pernicious that we may apply to it the proverb 
which says, "Conceit is worse than pestilence." 

Christianity is renunciation of this world. This is the theme of the 
professor's lecture, and then he makes lecturing his career, without so 
much as admitting that this after all is not Christianity. If it is Christian- 
ity, where then is the renunciation of this world ? No, this is not Chris- 
tianity, it is a poet's relation to Christianity — The priest preaches, he 
"witnesses" (No, I thank you kindly!), that Christianity is renunciation, 
and then makes preaching his remunerative profession; he does not 
so much as admit to himself that this is not Christianity. But where is 
the renunciation? Is not this then also a poet-relationship? 

But the poet plays the hypocrite with men — and the priest is a poet, 
as we have seen. So then the official worship is to play hypocrite — and 
to attain this great blessing the State naturally does not hesitate to 
spend money. 

If hypocrisy is to be checked, the mildest form in which this can 
come about is for the "priest" to make the admission that this after all 
is not Christianity — otherwise we have hypocrisy. 

What therefore is stated in the title is not quite true, that the poet 
is the most dangerous thing. The far more dangerous thing is that one 
who is only a poet is for that called a priest, gives himself out to be 
something far more serious and true than the poet, and yet is only a 
poet. This is hypocrisy in the second degree (raised to the second 
power). Hence there is needed a police expert who, merely by pro- 
nouncing this word, by saying that he was only a poet, could get in 
behind the scenes of all this mummery. 

Fishers of men 

These are Christ's own words: "Follow me, and I will make you 
fishers of men." (Matthew 4:19). 

So off went the Apostles. 

"But what was that likely to amount to, with these few men, who 
moreover understood Christ's words to mean that it was they who had 
to be sacrificed in order to catch men? It is easy to see that if things 
had gone on that way, it would have amounted to nothing. That was 
God's notion, perhaps a pretty one, but — as every practical man must 
surely admit — God is not practical. Or can one think of anything more 
topsy-turvy than that sort of fishing, where fishing means being sacri- 
ficed, so that it is not the fishermen who eat the fish but the fish who 
eat the fishermen? And that is what they call fishing! It is almost 
like Hamlet's madness when he says of Polonius that he is at a supper, 
not where he eats, but where he is eaten. 43 

Then man undertook God's cause. 

"Fishers of men! What Christ meant is something quite different 
from what these honest Apostles achieved, in defiance of all linguistic 
usage and linguistic analogy, for in no language is this what is under- 
stood by fishing. What He meant and intended was the origination of 
a new branch of business, i.e. man-fishery, preaching Christianity in 
such a way that it will amount to something to fish with this fishing 

Attention now, and you will see that it does amount to something! 

Yes, my word, it did amount to something! It amounted to "estab- 
lished Christendom" with millions and millions and millions of Chris- 

It was quite simply arranged. Just as one company is formed to 
speculate in the herring-fishery, another in cod-fishing, another in whal- 
ing, etc., so man-fishing was carried on by a stock company which 
guaranteed its members a dividend of such and such a per cent. 

And what was the result of it? If you haven't done it yet, don't fail 
to take advantage of this opportunity to admire man! The result was 
that they caught a prodigious number of herring, or what I mean is 
men, Christians; and of course the company was in a brilliant financial 
condition. It proved indeed that even the most successful herring com- 
pany did not make nearly so big a profit as did man-fishery. And one 
thing further, an extra profit, or at least a piquant seasoning on top of 


the profit, namely, that no herring company is able to quote words of 
Scripture when they send boats out for the catch. 

But man-fishery is a godly enterprise, the stockholders in this com- 
pany can appeal to words of Scripture for themselves, for Christ says, 
"I will make you fishers of men." They can tranquilly go to meet the 
Judgment, saying, "We have accomplished Thy word, we have fished 
for men." 

The sort of person they call a Christian 

First picture. 

It is a young man — let us think of it so, reality furnishes examples 
in abundance — it is a young man, we can imagine him with more than 
ordinary ability, knowledge, interested in public events, a politician, 
even taking an active part as such. 

As for religion, his religion is. ..that he has none at all. To think of 
God never occurs to him, any more than it does to go to church, and 
it is certainly not on religious grounds he eschews that; he almost fears 
that to read God's Word at home would make him ridiculous. 

When it turns out that the situation requires him to express himself 
about religion and there is some danger in doing it, he gets out of the 
difficulty by saying, as is the truth, "I have no opinion at all, such things 
have never concerned me." 

This same young man who feels no need of religion feels the need 
of being...paterfamilias. He marries, then he has a child, he is...pre- 
sumptive father. And then what happens? 

Well, our young man is, as they say, in hot water about this child; 
in the capacity of ...presumptive father he is compelled to have a religion. 
And it turns out that he has the Evangelical Lutheran religion. 

How pitiful it is to have a religion in this way. As a man he has no 
religion; when there might be danger connected with having even an 
opinion about religion, he has no religion — but in the capacity of...pre- 
sumptive father he has (risum teneatisl) that religion precisely which 
extols the single state. 

So they notify the priest, the midwife arrives with the baby, a young 
lady holds the infant's bonnet coquettishly, several young men who also 
have no religion render the presumptive father the service of having, 
as godfathers, the Evangelical Christian religion, and assume obligation 
for the Christian upbringing of the child, while a silken priest with a 
graceful gesture sprinkles water three times on the dear little baby and 
dries his hands gracefully with the towel 

And this they dare to present to God under the name of Christian 
baptism. Baptism — it was with this sacred ceremony the Saviour of the 
world was consecrated for His life's work, and after Him the disciples, 44 
men who had well reached the age of discretion and who then, dead 
to this life (therefore were immersed three times, signifying that they 
were baptized into communion with Christ's death), promised to be 
willing to live as sacrificed men in this world of falsehood and evil. 


The priests, however, these holy men, understand their business, and 
understand too that if (as Christianity must unconditionally require of 
every sensible man) it were so that only when a person has reached 
the age of discretion he is permitted to decide upon the religion he will 
have — the priests understand very well that in this way their trade 
would not amount to much. And .therefore these holy witnesses to the 
truth insinuate themselves into the lying-in room, where the mother is 
weak after the suffering she has gone through, and the paterfamilias hot water. And then under the name of baptism they have the 
courage to present to God a ceremony such as that which has been 
described, into which a little bit of truth might be brought nevertheless, 
if the young lady, instead of holding the little bonnet sentimentally 
over the baby, were satirically to hold a night cap over the presumptive 
father. For to have religion in that way is, spiritually considered, a pitiful 
comedy. A person has no religion; but by reason of family circum- 
stances, first because the mother got into the family way, the pater- 
familias in turn got into embarrassment owing to that, and then with 
the ceremonies connected with the sweet little baby — by reason of all 
this a person has...the Evangelical Lutheran religion. 

Second Picture. 

It is a tradesman. His motto is: Every man's a thief in his business. 
"It is impossible," says he, "to be able to get through this world if one 
is not just like the other tradesmen, who all pay homage to the maxim 
that every man is a thief in his business." 

As for religion — well, really his religion is this: Every man's a thief 
in his business. He also has a religion in addition to this, and his opinion 
is that especially every tradesman ought to have one. "A tradesman," 
says he, "even if he has no religion, ought never to let that be noticed, 
for that may readily be harmful to him by casting possibly suspicion 
upon his honesty; and preferably a tradesman ought to have the religion 
which prevails in the land." As to the last point, he explains that the 
Jews always have the reputation of cheating more than the Christians, 
which, as he maintains, is by no means the case; he maintains that the 
Christians cheat just as well as the Jews, but what injures the Jews is 
the fact that they do not have the religion which prevails in the land. 
As to the first point, namely, the profit it affords to have a religion, with 
a view to the countenance it gives to cheating — with regard to this he 
appeals to what one learns from the priests; he maintains that what 
helps the priests to cheat more than any other class in society is pre- 


cisely the fact that they are so closely associated with religion. If such 
a thing could be done, he would gladly give a good shilling to obtain 
ordination, for that would pay brilliantly. 

So two or four times a year this man puts on his best clothes...and 
goes to communion. Up comes a priest, a priest (like those that jump 
up out of a snuffbox when one touches a spring) who jumps up when- 
ever he sees "a blue banknote." 45 And thereupon the priest celebrates 
the Holy Communion, from which the tradesman, or rather both 
tradesmen (both the priest and the honest citizen), return home to their 
customary way of life, only that one of them (the priest) cannot be 
said to return home to his customary way of life, for in fact he had 
never left it, but rather had been functioning as a tradesman. 

And this is what one dares to offer to God under the name of the 
Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, the Communion in Christ's body and 

The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper! It was at the Last Supper that 
Christ, Who from eternity had been consecrated to be the Sacrifice, 
met for the last time before His death with His disciples, who also were 
consecrated to death or to the possibility of death if they truly followed 
Him. Hence for all the festal solemnity it is so shudderingly true, what 
is said about His body and blood, about this blood-covenant which has 
united the Sacrifice with His few faithfuL.blood-witnesses, as they 
surely were willing to be. 

And now the solemnity is this: to live before and after in complete 
worldliness — and then a ceremony. However, for good reasons the 
priests take care not to enlighten people about what the New Testa- 
ment understands by the Lord's Supper and the obligation it imposes. 
Their whole business is based upon living off of the fact that others 
are sacrificed, their Christianity is, to receive sacrifices. If it were pro- 
posed to them that they themselves should be sacrificed, they would 
regard it as a strange and unchristian demand, conflicting violently with 
the wholesome doctrine of the New Testament, which they would prove 
with such colossal learning that the span of life of no individual man 
would suffice for studying all this through. 

"First the kingdom of God" 40 
A kind of novel. 

The theological candidate Ludvig From — is seeking. And when one 
hears that a "theological" candidate is seeking, one need not have a 
specially vivid imagination to understand what it is he seeks, of course 
it is the kingdom of God, which indeed one must seek first! 

No, it is not that after all. What he seeks is a royal appointment to 
a living. And before he got that far there first occurred a great many 
things, which I shall indicate with a few strokes. 

First he went to high school, from which he eventually graduated. 
Thereupon he first took two examinations, and after four years of read- 
ing he first took the professional examination. 

With that he is a theological candidate, and one would perhaps sup- 
pose that after he had first passed all this, he would finally have reached 
the point of working for Christianity. Oh, yes, if it were for an artisans' 
guild. But, no, first he must go to the Seminary for half a year, 47 and 
when that is finished it means that eight years have first gone by dur- 
ing which there was no question of being able to seek. 

And now we have reached the beginning of the novel: the eight 
years are past, he seeks. 

His life, which hitherto cannot be said to have had any relation to 
the absolute, suddenly assumes such a relation: he seeks absolutely 
everything; he writes one sheet after another of officially stamped pa- 
per, 48 filling four pages of each; he runs from Herod to Pilate; he rec- 
ommends himself to the ministers of state and to the porters; in short, 
he is entirely in the service of the absolute. Indeed, one of his acquaint- 
ances, who for the past few years has not seen him, thinks to his amaze- 
ment that he discovers a decrease in his size, which perhaps may be 
explained by supposing that it happened to him as to Munchausen's 
dog, which was a greyhound, and by much running became a dachs- 

Thus three years pass. Our theological candidate really is in need of 
repose, after such prodigious exertion in running on commissions, he 
needs to be put out of commission or else to come to rest in a living 
and be nursed a little by his future wife — for meanwhile he first became 

Finally, as Pernille says to Magdalone, 1 " the hour of his "redemption" 
strikes, so with the whole power of conviction he will be able from 


his own experience to "bear witness" before the congregation that in 
Christianity there is salvation and redemption — he is appointed to a 

What happens? By procuring more precise information about the 
revenues of the living, he discovers that they are about 150 dollars less 
than he had supposed. The game is up. The unfortunate man is almost 
in despair. He already has bought stamped paper in order to approach 
the Cultus Minister with the petition that he may be allowed to be 
regarded as not called (and then to begin all over again from the be- 
ginning), 50 when one of his acquaintances persuades him to give this up. 
So it remains at that, he keeps the call. 

He is ordained — and the Sunday arrives when he is to be presented 
to the congregation. The Dean, by whom he is presented, is more than 
an ordinary man; he not only has what all priests have (and all the 
more developed, the higher their rank), an unprejudiced eye for earthly 
profit, but he also has a speculative eye for universal history, 51 which 
he does not keep to himself but allows the congregation to share. By a 
stroke of genius he chooses for his text the words of the Apostle Peter: 
"Lo, we have left all and have followed Thee," and he then explains to 
the congregation that precisely in times such as ours there must be men 
like that as teachers, and in connection therewith he recommends this 
young man, of whom he knows how near he has been to drawing back 
for the sake of 150 dollars. 

The young man himself now mounts the pulpit — and, strangely 
enough, the Gospel for the Day is: "Seek first the kingdom of God." 
He delivers his sermon. "A very good sermon," says the Bishop, who 
himself was present, "a very good sermon; and it produced a proper 
effect, that whole part about 'first' the kingdom of God, and the way 
he stressed this word first." "But does it not seem to your Lordship that 
in this instance a correspondence between speech and life would be 
desirable? Upon me this word first made an almost satirical impres- 
sion." "What an absurdity! He is called to preach the doctrine, the 
sound, unadulterated doctrine of seeking first the kingdom of God, 
and that he did very well." 

This is the sort of divine service one dares — under oath! — to offer unto 
God — the most dreadful mockery. 

Whoever thou art, think merely on this word of God, "First the 
kingdom of God," and then think on this novel, which is so true, so 
true, so true — and thou wilt not need more to make it clear to thee 


that the whole official Christianity is an abyss of falsehood and illusion, 
something so profane that the only thing that with truth can be said 
about it is: By ceasing to take part (if usually thou dost) in the public 
worship of God as it now is, thou hast constantly one sin the less, and 
that a great one : thou dost not take part in treating God as a fool (cf . 
"This has to be said, so be it then said") . 

God's Word reads, "First the kingdom of God," and the interpreta- 
tion of it, perhaps a way of completing and "perfecting" it (for one 
wants to do the thing handsomely) is: first everything else, and last 
the kingdom of God; after a long while the earthly is first attained, 
and then finally comes at last a sermon about seeking first the kingdom 
of God, then one becomes a priest; and the priest's whole profession 
is a constant practice of this: first the earthly. ..and then the kingdom 
of God, first regard for the earthly, whether the thing pleases the Gov- 
ernment or the majority, or whether a man is himself a big enough bug 
to do it, i.e. first regard for what the fear of man bids or forbids...and 
then the kingdom of God, first money...and then thou canst get thy 
child baptized, first money...then there will be earth thrown on and 
a funeral oration corresponding to the tariff, first money...then I will 
visit the sick, first money...and then, virtus post nummos (first money, 
then virtue 52 ), then the kingdom of God, the last being in such a de- 
gree last that it doesn't come at all, and the whole thing stops with the 
first, with money — the only case where one does not feel the need of 
"going further." 53 

Such at every point and in all respects is the relation of official Chris- 
tianity to the Christianity of the New Testament. And furthermore this 
is not what people themselves admit is a pitiable situation; no, they 
impudently brave it out that Christianity is perfectible, that one cannot 
stop with the first form of Christianity, that this is merely a phase, etc. 

Therefore there is nothing so displeasing to God as official Christianity 
and taking part in it with the claim that this is worshiping Him. If 
thou dost believe, as surely thou dost, that to steal, rob, plunder, commit 
adultery, slander, gormandize, is displeasing to God, then official Chris- 
tianity and its worship is infinitely more abhorrent to Him; that man 
can be sunk in such a brutish stupidity and spiritlessness as to offer 
God worship of this sort where everything is thoughtlessness, spiritless- 
ness and torpor — and then that man can impudently regard this as a 
stage of progress in Christianity! 


It is this which it is my duty to say: "Whoever thou art, whatever 
in other respects thy life may be, by ceasing to take part (if usually 
thou dost) in the public worship of God as it now is, thou hast one sin 
the less, and that a great one." The responsibility is thine, and thou 
shalt bear it, for the way thou dost act, but thou hast been warned. 

That "Christendom" is from generation to generation 
a society of non-Christians ; and the formula in 
accordance with which this comes about 

The formula is this: when the individual has reached the age when 
there might be any question of his becoming a Christian in the New 
Testament sense, his notion then is that he can't thoroughly make up 
his mind to it. On the other hand, he thoroughly get mar- 
ried. Aha! He then indulges in the following reflection: "I am already 
too old to become a Christian [the basic falsehood of "Christendom," 
for according to the New Testament it must be as a man one becomes a 
Christian]. No, one must become a Christian as a child, it must be 
taken from childhood up. So now I shall marry and beget children, 
and they shall be Christians." 

Abracadabra! Amen, amen, world without end, amen! All honor 
to the priests! 

This is the secret of "Christendom," an unparalleled impudence by 
way of putting a wax nose on God, an impudence which, under the 
name of being Christianity, is blessed by the priests, these perjured 
teachers, this shady company which (as anyone with any experience 
must know and perceive, though not everyone is well enough ac- 
quainted with the New Testament to be properly disgusted by it) 
keeps on good terms with the midwives. Look alertly, and thou shalt 
see that it is as J say, that there is a secret understanding between every 
priest and the midwives; they understand among themselves that to 
the priest it is of the utmost importance to stand well with the mid- 
wives, and they understand among themselves that they share after all 
in a common livelihood — and the priest is bound by an oath upon the 
New Testament which extols the single life. But that is a matter of 
course, for the Christianity of "Christendom" is also exactly the opposite 
of the Christianity of the New Testament, and therefore these petti- 
coats (I mean the priests, not the midwives), as importunate as pander- 
esses, haunt the lying-in rooms. 

The Christianity of "Christendom" sees that everything depends upon 
establishing the maxim that one becomes a Christian as a child, that 
if one is rightly to become a Christian, one must be such from infancy. 
This is the basic falsehood. If this is put through, then good-night to 
the Christianity of the New Testament! Then "Christendom" has won 
the game — a victory which is most fitly celebrated by a regular gorge 


of meats and drinks, a wild carouse with bacchants and bacchantes 
(priests and midwives) at the head of the procession. 

The truth is, one cannot become a Christian as a child; that is just 
as impossible as for a child to beget children. Becoming a Christian 
presupposes (according to the New Testament) being fully a man, what 
one might call in a physical sense maturity of manhood — in order then 
to become a Christian by breaking with everything to which one nat- 
urally clings. Becoming a Christian presupposes (according to the New 
Testament) a personal consciousness of sin and of oneself as a sinner. 
So one readily sees that this whole thing about becoming a Christian 
as a child, yea, about childhood being above all other ages the season 
for becoming a Christian, is neither more nor less than puerility, which 
these puerile priests, presumably by virtue of their oath upon the New 
Testament, put into people's heads in order that the priests' trade and 
career may be established. 

Let us go back to the beginning. The individual said, "I am already 
too old to become a Christian, but I shall marry, and my children 
shall," etc. If he had really been serious about becoming a Christian, 
he would have said, "Now I am at an age when I can become a Chris- 
tian. Consequently it could not of course occur to me to marry. Even 
were it not true that Christianity recommends the single state, which 
the Pattern exemplifies, although the Apostle, clearly enough against 
his will, finds himself compelled to yield a little to the uxorious multi- 
tude, and, like one who is tired of hearing the everlasting twaddle 
about the same thing, finally makes the little concession that, if worse 
comes to worst, it is better to marry than to burn — even if this were not 
so, it nevertheless could never occur to me to marry. The task of be- 
coming a Christian being so prodigious, why should I charge myself 
with this impediment, although people, especially when they are at a 
certain age, represent it and regard it as the greatest felicity? Honestly, 
I am unable to comprehend how it can occur to any man to unite being 
a Christian with being married. Note that with this I am not thinking 
of the case of a man who was already married and had a family, and 
then at that age became a Christian; no, I mean to say, how one who 
is unmarried and says he has become a Christian, how it could occur 
to him to marry. A Saviour comes to the world to save. ..whom? The 
lost. Of them there are surely enough, for all are lost, and everyone that 
is born is by being born a lost soul. For to every individual the Saviour 
says, 'Wilt thou be saved?' So even if the Saviour said nothing about 
the single state, it seems to me a matter of course that it was not neces- 

214 THE INSTANT > NO - 7 

sary to say that a Christian does not marry. Surely it was the least one 
could require of a man who was himself saved, and redeemed at so 
dear a price that it was accomplished by another man's agonizing life 
and death, it was after all the least one could require that he should not 
engage in begetting children, in producing more lost souls, for of them 
there are really enough. By the propagation of the race the lost are 
ooured out as from a cornucopia. And should then the man who is 
saved, as though in thanksgiving for his salvation, also take part in the 
propagation of the race, making his contribution to the number of the 

So then the individual who was really serious about becoming a 
Christian stopped with himself (seriousness consists precisely in this), 
he stopped with himself and understood that the task was for him to 
become a Christian; he stopped with himself to such a degree that it 
absolutely could not occur to him to marry; he gave expression to the 
opposite of that which every man naturally may be said to express, the 
possibility of a race which perhaps through long ages would be de- 
scended from him, he expressed the opposite of this by coming there 
to a stop; he assumed an inverse relation (therefore Christianly the 
right one) to the "mass of perdition," did not any longer engage in 
increasing it, but stood in a negative relation to it. In the Christianity 
of "Christendom" it is different: battalions of breeders and women- 
folks are brought together, whereby millions of children are produced — 
and this, as is maintained by the priests (who must know it, for they 
have taken an oath upon the New Testament), it is maintained by the 
priests (but what will not the priests do, even more than the Germans, 
for money? 54 ), this the priests maintain is Christianity, the priests, 
these holy men, of whom it cannot be said, as it is said of others, that 
the priest is a thief in his business; the priest is an exception, he is...a 
liar in his business. 

"As a child one must become a Christian, one must take it from 
childhood up." That is to say, the parents want to be exempted from 
being Christians; but one would like to have a pretext, and this one 
serves : to bring up one's children as true Christians. The priests under- 
stand the secret very well, and hence there is so much talk about the 
Christian upbringing of children, about the serious task. ..which would 
leave the parents free for what they count the serious business of life. 
The relation of the parents to their children is like that between the 
priests and their congregations: the priests too have not exactly an in- 
clination to become Christians — but their congregation, that must be- 


come truly Christian. Their waggishness always consists in putting 
away seriousness (that of becoming Christians themselves) and intro- 
ducing instead of that the profound seriousness of making others Chris- 

Thus people bring up their children as Christians, so called; that is 
to say, they fill up the children with childish sweets, which are not the 
Christianity of the New Testament at all; and from these childish 
sweets, which no more resemble the teaching about a cross and agony, 
about dying from the world, about hating oneself, than jam resembles 
cream of tartar, from these childish sweets the parents lick of! a little 
and become so sentimental at the thought that they, alas, are no longer 
such Christians as they were when they are children, for only as a child 
can one really be a Christian. 

And to all this galimatias the priests of course agree; yes, of course! 
One thing only is important to the priest, namely, in every way (by 
virtue of his oath upon the New Testament) to do exactly the opposite 
of that which the New Testament does, in every way to preserve in 
man, to cultivate and to encourage, the desire for the propagation of 
the race, in order that there may constantly be provided battalions of 
Christians, which are a vital necessity if thousands of priests who are 
strong breeders are to live off of them with their families. Moreover 
the "priest" knows also what every politically wise government knows 
(and what the lovers only discover afterwards), that man is reduced 
to insignificance by marriage, that therefore it is important, by cattle 
shows, by prizes for begetting the most children, and in other ways, e.g. 
by representing this as Christianity, to encourage the propagation of 
their kind, which is what recalls most strongly man's kinship with God. 
Finally, the "priest" thereby avoids serious collisions with the multitude 
of men. Christianity's view of life is high and therefore may easily be 
an offense to the multitude of men. If on the other hand Christianity 
amounts only to begetting children, it becomes as popular and com- 
prehensible as possible. And, as the priest says, we ought not to frighten 
people away from religion, one ought to win them for it, e.g. by making 
the satisfaction of their lusts religion. In this way one wins them in 
masses, and then in turn wins (profits oneself) by the fact that men 
are won for religion — but in that way one does not win heaven. 

From generation to generation "Christendom" is a society of non- 
Christians; and the formula in accordance with which that comes about 
is this: the individual himself is not willing to be a Christian but under- 


takes to beget children who shall become Christians; and these children 
in their turn behave in the same way. God sits in heaven . . . like a fool. 
But His perjured servants upon earth, the priests, take enjoyment in 
life and in this comedy. Hand in hand with the midwives they are the 
assistants in the propagation of the race — the true Christian seriousness. 

Confirmation and the wedding : a Christian comedy — 
or something worse 

Conscience (in so far as there can be any question of that in this 
connection) seems to have smitten "Christendom" with the reflection 
that this thing after all was too absurd, that this purely bestial nonsense 
wouldn't do — the notion of becoming a Christian by receiving as an 
infant a drop of water on the head administered by a royal functionary, 
the family then arranging a party, a banquet, for the occasion, to cele- 
brate this festivity. 

This won't do, thought "Christendom," there must also be an ex- 
pression of the fact that the baptized individual personally undertakes 
to perform the baptismal vow. 

This is the purpose of confirmation — a splendid invention, if one 
makes a double assumption: that divine worship is in the direction 
of making a fool of God; and that its principal aim is to provide an 
occasion for family festivities, parties, a jolly evening, and a banquet 
which differs in this respect from other banquets that this banquet 
(what a refinement!) has "also" a religious significance. 

"The tender infant," says "Christendom," "cannot personally take 
the baptismal vow, for which a real person is requisite." And so (is this 
genius or ingenious?) they have chosen the period from fourteen to 
fifteen years of age, the age of boyhood. This real person — there can 
be no objection, he's man enough to undertake to perform the baptismal 
vows made in behalf of the tender infant. 

A boy of fifteen! In case it were a question of ten dollars, the father 
would say, "No, my boy, that can't be left to your discretion, you're 
not yet dry behind the ears." But as for his eternal blessedness, and 
when a real personality must concentrate the seriousness of personality 
upon what in a deeper sense could not be called seriousness, namely, 
that a tender infant is bound by a vow — for that the age of fifteen years 
is the most appropriate. 

The most appropriate— ah, yes, if, as was previously remarked, divine 
worship is assumed to have a double aim : in a delicate way (if one can 
call it that) to treat God as a fool; and to give occasion for family 
festivities. Then it is extraordinarily appropriate, as is everything else 
on that occasion, including the Gospel appointed for the day, which, 
as everyone knows, begins thus: "When the doors were shut" OJ — and 
is peculiarly appropriate on a Confirmation Sunday, it is with true edifi- 
cation one hears a priest read it aloud on a Confirmation Sunday. 


Confirmation then is easily seen to be far deeper nonsense than infant 
baptism, precisely because confirmation claims to supply what was 
lacking in infant baptism: a real personality which can consciously 
assume responsibility for a vow which has to do with the decision of an 
eternal blessedness. On the other hand, this nonsense is in another sense 
shrewd enough, ministering to the egoism of the priesthood, which 
understands very well that, if the decision with regard to religion is 
postponed to the mature age of man (the only Christian and the only 
sensible thing), many would perhaps have character enough not to 
want to be feignedly Christian. Hence the priest seeks to take possession 
of people in young and tender years, so that in maturer years they 
might have the difficulty of breaking a "sacred" obligation, imposed 
to be sure in boyhood, but which many perhaps may feel superstitious 
about breaking. Therefore the priesthood takes possession of the child, 
the boy, receives from him sacred vows, etc. And what the "priest," this 
man of God, proposes to do is surely a godly undertaking. Otherwise 
analogy might require that, just as there is a police ordinance prohibit- 
ing the sale of liquor to boys, so there might also be issued a prohibition 
against taking solemn vows concerning an eternal blessedness...from 
boys, a prohibition to insure that the priests, because they are perjurers, 
should not for this reason be allowed to work in the direction of bring- 
ing about (for their own consolation) the greatest possible comune 
naufragium, 56 namely, that the whole community should become per- 
jured; and letting boys of fifteen take a solemn vow concerning an 
eternal blessedness is as though calculated to this end. 

So then confirmation is in itself far deeper nonsense than infant 
baptism. But not to neglect anything which might contribute to make 
confirmation the exact opposite of that which it gives itself out to be, 
this ceremony has been associated with all finite and civil ends, so 
that the significance of confirmation really is the certificate issued by 
the priest, without which the boy or girl in question cannot get along 
at all in this life. 

The whole thing is a comedy — and taking this view of it, perhaps 
something might be done to introduce more dramatic illusion into this 
solemnity, as, for example, if a prohibition were published against any- 
one being confirmed in a jacket, item an ordinance that upon the floor 
of the church male confirmants must wear a beard, which of course 
could fall off at the family festivities in the evening, and perhaps be 
used for fun and jest. 

By what I am writing I do not attack the congregation; they have 


been led astray, one cannot blame them if, being left to their own devices 
and deceived by the fact that the priests have taken an oath upon the 
New Testament, they think well of this sort of worship. But woe unto 
the priests, woe unto these perjured liars! I know it well, there have 
been mockers of religion who would have given — yea, what would they 
not have given? — to be able to do what I can do, but did not succeed 
because God was not with them. Otherwise with me, originally kindly 
disposed towards the priests as rarely anyone has been, just desiring 
to help them, they have brought upon themselves the opposite. And 
with me is the Almighty; and He knows best how the blows must be 
dealt so that they are felt, so that laughter administered in fear and 
trembling may be the scourge — it is for that I am used. 

The Wedding 

True worship of God consists quite simply in doing God's will. 

But this sort of worship was never to man's taste. That which in all 
generations men have been busied about, that in which theological 
learning originated, becomes many, many disciplines, widens out to 
interminable prolixity, that upon which and for which thousands of 
priests and professors live, that which is the content of the history of 
"Christendom," by the study of which those who are becoming priests 
and professors are educated, is the contrivance of another sort of divine 
worship, which consists in...having one's own will, but doing it in such 
a way that the name of God, the invocation of God, is brought into 
conjunction with it, whereby man thinks he is assured against being 
ungodly — whereas, alas, precisely this is the most aggravated sort of 

An example. A man is inclined to want to support himself by killing 
people. Now he sees from God's Word that this is not permissible, that 
God's will is, "Thou shalt not kill." "All right," thinks he, "but that 
sort of worship doesn't suit me, neither would I be an ungodly man." 
What does he do then? He gets hold of a priest who in God's name 
blesses the dagger. Yes, that's something different. 

In God's Word the single state is recommended. "But," says man, 
"that sort of worship doesn't suit me, and I am certainly not an un- 
godly man either. Such an important step as marriage [which, be it 
noted, God advises against, and thinks that not taking this "important 
step" is the important thing] I surely ought not to take without assur- 
ing myself of God's blessing. [Bravo!] That is what this man of God, 


the priest, is for; he blesses this important step [the importance of which 
consists in not doing it], and so it is well pleasing to God" — and I have 
my will, and my will becomes worship, and the priest has his will, he 
has ten dollars, not earned in the humble way of brushing people's 
clothes or serving beer or brandy at the bar; no, he was employed in 
God's service, and to earn ten dollars in that way is. ..divine worship. 

What an abyss of nonsense and abomination! When something is 
displeasing to God, does it become well pleasing by the fact that (to 
make bad worse) a priest takes part who (to make bad worse) gets ten 
dollars for declaring that it is well pleasing to God? 

Let us stick to the subject of the wedding. In his Word God recom- 
mends the single state. Now there is a couple that want to get married. 
This couple, of course, since they call themselves Christians, ought to 
know well what Christianity is — but let that pass. The lovers apply to... 
the priest — and the priest is bound by an oath upon the New Testament 
which recommends the single state. If then he is not a liar and a per- 
jurer who in the basest manner earns paltry dollars, he must act as 
follows. At the most he can say to them with human sympathy for 
this human thing of being in love, "My little children, I am the last 
man to whom you should apply; to apply to me in such a contingency 
is as if one were to apply to the chief of police to inquire how one should 
comport oneself when stealing. My duty is to employ every means to 
restrain you. At the utmost I can say with the Apostle (for they are 
not the words of the Master), Yes, if it comes to that, and you have 
not continency, then get together, 'it is better to marry than to burn.' 
And I know very well that you will shudder inwardly when I talk 
thus about what you think the most beautiful thing in life; but I must 
do my duty. And for this reason I said that I am the last man to whom 
you should apply." 

In "Christendom" it is different. The priest — if only there are some 
he can splice together, he's the man for it. If the couple had applied to 
the midwives, perhaps they would not be so sure of being confirmed in 
the notion that their project is a thing well pleasing to God. 

So they are wed, i.e. "man" has his will, but this thing of having 
his will is refined to being also divine worship, for God's name is 
brought into conjunction with it. They are the priest. Ah, the 
fact that the priest takes part is the reassuring thing. This man who 
by an oath is bound to the New Testament, and then for ten dollars 


is the most complaisant man one can have to deal with— this man 
vouches for it that this act is true divine worship. 

Christianly one must say that precisely the fact that the priest takes 
part is the worst thing in the whole affair. If you want to marry, seek 
rather to be married by a blacksmith; then it might perhaps (if one may 
speak thus) escape God's notice; but when a priest takes part it cannot 
possibly escape God's notice. Remember what was said to a man who 
in a tempest invoked the gods : "Don't for anything let the gods observe 
that you are in the party!"" 7 And in the same way one might say, "Take 
care at all events not to have a priest take part." The others, i.e. the 
blacksmith and the lovers, have not taken an oath to God upon the New 
Testament, so (if I may speak thus) the thing goes better than when 
the priest intervenes with his...holy presence. 

What every religion in which there is any truth aims at, and what 
Christianity aims at decisively, is a total transformation in a man, to 
wrest from him through renunciation and self-denial all that, and 
precisely that, to which he immediately clings, in which he immediately 
has his life. This sort of religion, as "man" understands it, is not what 
he wants. The upshot therefore is that from generation to generation 
there lives — how equivocal! — a highly respected class in the community, 
the priests. Their metier is to invert the whole situation, so that what 
man likes becomes religion, on the condition, however, of invoking 
God's name and paying something definite to the priests. The rest of 
the community, when one examines the case more closely, are seen to 
be egoistically interested in upholding the estimation in which the 
priests are held — for otherwise the falsification cannot succeed. 

To become a Christian in the New Testament sense is such a radical 
change that, humanly speaking, one must say that it is the heaviest trial 
to a family that one of its members becomes a Christian. For in such a 
Christian the God-relationship becomes so predominant that he is not 
"lost" in the ordinary sense of the word; no, in a far deeper sense than 
dying he is lost to everything that is called family. It is of this Christ 
constantly speaks, both with reference to himself when he says that to 
be his disciple is to be his mother, brother, sister, that in no other sense 
has he a mother, a brother, a sister; and also when he speaks continually 
about the collision of hating father and mother, one's own child, etc. 
To become a Christian in the New Testament sense is to loosen (in 
the sense in which the dentist speaks of loosening the tooth from the 
gums), to loosen the individual out of the cohesion to which he clings 


with the passion of immediacy, and which clings to him with the same 

This sort of Christianity was never — no more now, precisely no more 
than in the year 30 — to man's taste, but was distasteful to him in his 
inmost heart, mortally distasteful. Therefore the upshot is that from 
generation to generation there lives a highly respected class in the com- 
munity whose metier is to transform Christianity into the exact opposite. 

The Christianity of the priests, by the aid of religion (which, alas, is 
used precisely to bring about the opposite), is directed to cementing 
families more and more egoistically together, and to arranging family 
festivities, beautiful, splendid family festivities, e.g. infant baptism and 
confirmation, which festivities, compared for example with excursions 
in the Deer Park and other family frolics, have a peculiar enchantment 
for the fact that they are "also" religious. 

"Woe unto you," says Christ to the "lawyers" (the interpreters of 
Scripture), "for ye took away the key of knowledge, ye entered not 
in yourselves [i.e. into the kingdom of heaven, cf. Matthew 23:13], 
and them that were entering in ye hindered." Luke 11:52. 

This is the highly respected profession of the priests, a way of liveli- 
hood which prevents men from entering the kingdom of heaven. As a 
compensation for this the "priest" does his best in the way of perform- 
ances (such performances, e.g. as Manager Carstensen with notable 
talent produces at our Tivoli 58 ), beautiful, splendid performances with 
(just as a little wine tastes good in lemonade) a little religious tang to 
them, which Carstensen to be sure cannot providc.but after all perhaps 
he might be ordained. 

That the Christian education of children in the Chris- 
tian home, which is so much extolled, especially in 
Protestantism, is based upon a lie, a sheer lie 

Of course in "Christendom" people generally are living in such a 
way that parents do not concern themselves at all about being Christians 
except in name, have really no religion. The education of the children 
consists in a formal training, in learning a few things, but one does not 
undertake to convey any religious and still less any Christian view of 
life, to talk to the child about God, still less to speak of Him in accord- 
ance with the concepts and ideas which are peculiar to Christianity. 

It is different in the families which like to assume an air of importance 
for being earnest Christians, and who know how to talk a great deal 
about the significance of the education of children in Christianity, from 
earliest childhood, as they put it. 

The truth, however, is that this (the pride of Protestantism!), this 
Christian education of children in the Christian home is, Christianly 
speaking, based upon a lie, a sheer lie. 

And this can very easily be proved. 

In the first place. The parents cannot talk Christianly and truly 
about how the child's coming into existence is to be Christianly under- 
stood. The parents are egoistic enough — and that under the name of 
Christianity! — to bring up the child in the view that it was an extraor- 
dinary act of beneficence on the part of the parents that the child exists, 
that this master-stroke of the parents whereby the child came into exist- 
ence was peculiarly well pleasing to God. That is to say, under the name 
of the Christian education of children they turn Christianity topsy- 
turvy and transform its view of life into exactly the opposite of what 
it is. Christianly it is anything but the greatest benefaction to bestow 
life upon the child (that is paganism) ; Christianly it is anything but 
well pleasing to God, an act whereby one makes oneself thankworthy 
in his eyes, that one engages in begetting children (such a conception 
of God is paganism, even a lower form of paganism, or it is the sort 
of Judaism Christianity precisely would do away with) ; Christianly it 
is egoism in the highest degree that because a man and a woman cannot 
control their lust another being must therefore sigh, perhaps for seventy 
years, in this prisonhouse and vale of tears, and perhaps be lost eternally. 

In the second place. That the world into which the parents introduce 
the child is a sinful, ungodly, wicked world, that lamentation, anguish, 
wretchedness, awaits everyone that is born, even if he is among the 

224 THE instant j NO - 7 

number of those that. are saved, and if he is not of this number, eternal 
perdition awaits him— this the parents cannot say to the child. For one 
thing, the child cannot understand it, the child is in immediate rapport 
with nature, too happy to be able to understand such things. And 
secondly, the parents for their own sake cannot well say this to the 
child. Every child in its naivete is more or less ingenious. Suppose now 
that this child in its naivete were to say to its parents, "But if this is 
such a bad world, and if this is what awaits me, then indeed it is not 
well that I have come into this world." Bravo, my little friend, thou 
hast hit the mark! This is an exceedingly awkward situation for the 
parents! No, Christianity is not the place for bungling. 

In the third place. The parents cannot give the child the true Christian 
conception of God, and they are egoistically interested in not doing it. 
That before God this world is a lost world, where he who is born is by 
being born lost, that what God wills (out of love) is that a man shall 
die from the world, and that if God is so gracious as to turn His love 
toward him, that what God then does (out of love) is to torment him 
with every anguish calculated to take his life; for this is what God wills 
(yet out of love), He would have the life out of everyone that is born, 
have him transformed into a deceased man, one who lives as though 
dead. This, even if it were said to him, the child cannot grasp, and 
the parents, for egoistic reasons, take good care not to say it. What then 
do they do? Under the name of the Christian education of children 
they jabber foolishly out of the stock of paganism along the lines above 
suggested: "It is an extraordinary beneficence that thou didst come into 
existence, this is a fine world into which thou hast come, and God is a 
fine man, only hold fast to Him, He will to be sure not fulfill all thy 
wishes, but He's a help all the same." Sheer lies. 

And what then is the consequence of this much extolled Christian 
education of children? The consequence is, either that the child babbles 
foolishly the same twaddle throughout his life, as a man, a father, a 
grandparent, or that there may come an instant in this life when the 
child will be tried in the most dreadful pain by the query whether God 
is a mean man who lets a poor child imagine that He (God) is some- 
thing quite different from what He really is, or whether his parents are 

And when this pain has been overcome, when the child understands 
that everything is all right so far as God is concerned, that He had no 
share in what it occurred to me to tell about Him, and that at all events 
his parents were well-meaning in human love towards him, he never- 


theless will need perhaps a long, long time, the most painful cure, to 
get all that out of him which under the name of the Christian education 
of children has been poured into him. 

Behold, this is the consequence of the much extolled Christian educa- 
tion of children, based upon a lie, a sheer lie. But the priests extol it. 
Well, that you can understand. One man is enough to give a whole 
town cholera, and iooo perjurers are more -than enough to infect a whole 
society, so that the life they live under the name of Christianity is, 
Christianly, a sheer lie. 

The truth about the "priest's" importance to society 

As a statistician who is familiar with such things, being informed of 
the population of a big city, must be able to indicate the number of 
public prostitutes such a city consumes; as a statistician expert in such 
matters, knowing the size of the army, must be able to determine the 
number of physicians an army of that size needs in order to be well 
supplied; so also a statistician engaged for such a purpose, upon being 
told the population of a country, must be able to determine the number 
of perjurers (priests) which such a country needs, if under the name of 
Christianity it were to be perfectly secured against Christianity, or un- 
der the appearance of having Christianity it were to be perfectly reas- 
sured of being able to live a life of paganism, a paganism which is more- 
over tranquillized and refined by the notion that it is Christianity. 

From this point of view one can perceive the truth of the "priest's" 
importance to society, or how the case truly stands with regard to his 

Christianity rests upon the view of human existence which has as its 
presupposition that the human race is a lost race, that every individual 
who is born is by being born a lost individual. Christianity then would 
save every individual, but it makes no disguise of the fact that, when this 
is taken seriously, this life becomes the direct opposite of what is to 
man's taste and liking, being sheer suffering, anguish, misery. 

This of course man is not willing to submit to; among millions there 
is perhaps not one man who is willing honestly to submit to it. So the 
problem for "man," for the "human race," for "society," is to protect 
itself with all its might against Christianity, which must be regarded 
as its mortal enemy. 

But to break openly with Christianity, "No," says man, "that is not 
shrewd, it is even imprudent, and by no means gives promise of suf- 
ficient security. Such a prodigious power as Christianity is — when in 
the very face of it one is so honest, actually has to do with it to the 
extent that one flatly rejects it, one runs the risk that the game will end 
with this power getting a finger into one after all, as a punishment for 
the imprudence of having anything to do with it. For to reject it honestly 
is after all one way of having something to do with it." 

No, entirely different measures are needed in this instance: "man," 
this clever pate, must here be thoroughly alert. 

And now the comedy begins. For a population of such and such a 
size, says the statistician, there will be needed such and such a number 



of perjurers. They are engaged. The fact that what they preach and 
what their lives express is not the Christianity of the New Testament, 
they themselves see plainly enough; "But," say they, "this is our liveli- 
hood, so it behooves us not to yield, not to let anyone get the better 
of us." 

This is what the perjurers said. Society has perhaps a sort of suspicion 
that there is something amiss about this oath upon the New Testament. 
"However," thinks society, "it naturally is our business not to yield, 
but to act as if everything were all right." "We," says society, "are only 
laymen, we can't meddle with religion in this way, we are tranquil in 
the confidence we repose in the priest, who is bound in fact by an oath 
upon the New Testament." 

Now the comedy is complete: all are Christians, and everything is 
Christian, the priest included — and everything expresses the direct op- 
posite of the Christianity of the New Testament. But it is almost im- 
possible to get hold of the end of this cunningly tangled thread, it is 
almost impossible to get behind this specious appearance. How could 
it occur to anyone to doubt that Christianity exists? That is just as im- 
possible as to get into one's head the notion that the priest is a trades- 
man, this man who is bound by an oath to renounce the world, so that 
this trade, this business, has therefore to be carried on under the cor- 
porate title: "Renunciation of This World," a thing just as confusing 
as if on arriving one were to say "Farewell." How could it occur to 
anyone on hearing the word "farewell" that a person is arriving? And 
how could it occur to anyone — indeed it never did occur to anyone, 
and if I myself had not said it, no one would have known what I am 
talking about when I speak of "perjurers," that I mean the "priest," 
precisely that man who is...a witness to the truth. 

This is the "priest's" importance to society, which from generation to 
generation consumes a "necessary" number of perjurers, in order, under 
the name of Christianity, to be fully assured of being able to live a life 
of paganism, a paganism which is tranquillized and refined by the no- 
tion that it is Christianity. 

Naturally in the whole clerical order there is not a single honest man. 
Yes, I know well enough that people who in other respects are even not 
disinclined to agree with me in what I say, think nevertheless that I 
ought to make exceptions, that there are some after all. No, I thank you 
kindly. To get into that would be to get into twaddle; for the result 
presumably would be that the whole clerical order and society as a 
whole would acknowledge that I am right in all that I say, for each 


one in particular would naturally think that he was the exception. But, 
quite literally, there is no exception; quite literally, there is not one 
honest priest. Only let the police look a little more sharply at this pre- 
sumptively honest, this rare and extraordinarily honest man, and he who 
is willing to see will see at once that not even he is excepted, for, quite 
literally, there is not one honest priest. 

In the first place, he surely cannot be so stupid as not to see that the 
way in which he is paid is, Christianly, entirely inadmissible, directly 
contrary to Christ's ordinance. Item that his whole existence as a com- 
bination of civil servant and disciple of Christ is entirely inadmissible, 
directly contrary to Christ's ordinance, is such an ambiguity that he 
might be required (though not for the reason that criminals wear 
stripes — for the "priest" will not run away, one need hardly be afraid 
of that) to wear a costume of two colors, to express: partly — partly, both- 
and. In the second place, by being a member of the order he partakes 
in the whole guilt of the order. When the whole order is depraved, 
honesty can only be expressed by ceasing to be a member of the order; 
otherwise all one accomplishes is (assuming for an instant the man's 
honesty) that by having him as a member of it, the order has one it 
can appeal to as honest, which it ought not to have. It is as when the 
police on the occasion of a riot have notified the people to get away — 
then no good citizen remains. To remain is precisely a sign that one is 
not a good citizen, for the fact of being a good citizen is expressed by 
not wanting to have fellowship with those who remain in spite of the 
prohibition of the police. But let us assume for an instant that this man 
who remains is a highly respectable man, a good citizen, let us overlook 
the fact that by remaining he invalidates this assumption. By remain- 
ing he does great harm in another way. The riot now gets one it can 
appeal to, and perhaps this has the effect that the police cannot go ahead 
as vigorously as is necessary, merely because this "good citizen" is in 
the party. In the third place, it is perhaps very far from being true that 
this presumptively honest man is an exception; it may be that, though 
in a more refined way, he is worse than the others. It is well known that 
among the blind the one-eyed man is king; and when one has a mind 
to succeed at a cheap price in counting for something extraordinary, 
it is a shrewd plan to enter the company of mediocrity, meanness and 
dishonesty. Here by the effect of contrast a man's bit of honesty will 
make a brilliant showing — aha, yes, if this shrewd employment of the 
art of illumination were not a deeper kind of dishonesty than the blunt 
dishonesty of the others. 


No, there literally is not one single honest priest. On the other hand, 
by the existence of the priest, society as a whole is a baseness, a Gemein- 
heit, as it would not be if the priest were not a part of it. 

From morning to evening these thousands or millions in society ex- 
press the view of life which is the direct opposite of that of the New 
Testament, as opposite as are the conceptions of living and dying. One 
cannot call this base, it is human. But now comes the baseness, that 
with them there are 1000 perjurers who have taken an oath upon the 
New Testament, and who like all the rest of the community express 
that view of life which is directly opposite to that of Christianity, but 
at the same time reassure society that this is Christianity. Now society 
is thoroughly base. 

In the New Testament sense, to be a Christian is, in an upward sense, 
as different from being a man as, in a downward sense, to be a man is 
different from being a beast. A Christian in the sense of the New Testa- 
ment, although he stands suffering in the midst of life's reality, has 
yet become completely a stranger to this life; in the words of the Scrip- 
ture and also of the Collects 59 (which still are read — O bloody satire! — 
by the sort of priests we now have, and in the ears of the sort of Chris- 
tians that now live) he is a stranger and a pilgrim — just think for ex- 
ample of the late Bishop Mynster intoning, "We are strangers and 
pilgrims in this world"! A Christian in the New Testament sense is 
literally a stranger and a pilgrim, he feels himself a stranger, and every- 
one involuntarily feels that this man is a stranger to him. 

Let me take an example. To live in such a way that one works more 
laboriously than any day laborer, and with that manages only to have 
to pay money out, to become nothing, to be jeered at, etc. This way of 
living must appear to the multitude a sort of madness, at all events it 
will feel itself strange to such a life, will look strangely upon it. The 
truth is nevertheless that such a life comports with the Christianity of 
the New Testament. Let then one who leads such a life live in a Chris- 
tian community where there is a whole garrison of teachers bound by 
an oath upon the New Testament — then we have the baseness. These 
perjured teachers — indeed before them and their way of life the crowd 
does not feel itself strange, it is well acquainted with this, in fact it is 
its own: hail to profit, to activity in a business which promises both 
earthly and heavenly profit. But these teachers are priests, so as per- 
jurers upon the New Testament they surely must know what Chris- 
tianity is, and so can furnish a guarantee to the crowd that this profit- 
eering is genuine Christianity. When the crowd thus instructed feels 


strange in the face of such a way of living as was described, and is in- 
clined to regard it as madness, this is not base but human. But then the 
crowd thinks that Christianly it is justified in condemning such a mode 
of life as a sort of madness. This is base, and this baseness is due to...the 
existence of the "priest." 

On one occasion I had the following conversation with the late Bishop 
Mynster. I said to him that the priests might just about as well give up 
preaching, that all their sermons produced no effect whatsoever, because 
in the back of their heads the congregation was thinking privately, 
"Yes, that's his business." To my surprise Bishop Mynster replied, "Yes, 
there's something in that." I had not really expected this answer; for 
though this was said, to be sure, under four eyes, yet on this point Bishop 
Mynster was usually prudence itself. For my part, in relation to that 
utterance of mine, I have altered my opinion only to this extent, that 
it has now become clear to me that in one sense the priest does in fact 
produce a prodigious effect, that his existence transforms society as a 
whole, Christianly speaking, into a Gemeinheit. 

About the interest which is shown tor my cause 

In one way this interest is great enough; what I write has a large 
circulation, in a certain sense almost more than I could wish, although 
naturally I must in another sense desire the greatest possible circulation, 
but of course without being willing to employ in the very least the ex- 
pedients which might in the remotest degree resemble the well-known 
tricks of politicians, quacks, and press gangs. People read what I write, 
many read it with interest, with great interest — that I know. 

But with so many people this perhaps is all it comes to. The next 
Sunday they go to church as usual; they say, "What K. writes is sub- 
stantially true, and it is exceedingly interesting to read how he shows 
that the whole official worship is making a fool of God, is blasphemy — 
but after all we are accustomed to do this, we are unable to emancipate 
ourselves from it, we lack the power to do so. But certain it is that 
what he writes we shall read with enjoyment; one can't help being 
impatient to get a new number and to learn something more about this 
prodigiously interesting criminal case, as it undeniably is." 

This interest, however, is really not gratifying, rather it is distressing, 
one more dolorous proof that not only does Christianity not exist, but 
that men in our times are, as I would put it, not even so much as in a 
condition to have religion, but are strange to, unacquainted with, the 
sort of passion which every religion must require, without which one 
cannot have any religion, least of all Christianity. 

Let me illustrate what I want to say by a parable. In one sense, I em- 
ploy it very reluctantly, for I do not like to talk about such things; but 
I choose it and use it deliberately, yea, I think that I am not justified 
in not using it, for the seriousness of the case requires that every means 
be employed to make him who stands in need of it thoroughly disgusted 
with his situation, thoroughly disgusted with himself. 

There is a man whose wife is unfaithful to him, but he doesn't know 
it. There is one of his friends who (as a dubious proof of his friendship, 
perhaps many will say) informs him of it. The husband replies, "It is 
with lively interest I have listened to you talk, I admire the acumen 
with which you have been able to discover an infidelity so prudently 
concealed, and of which I really had no suspicion at all. But that for 
this cause, now that I know it to be true, I should get a divorce from 
her, no, that I cannot make up my mind to do. After all, I am now so 
accustomed to this domestic ease that I cannot do without it. Besides 
she has property, and I cannot do without that either. On the other 


hand, I do not deny that with the most lively interest I shall listen to 
what further information you can give me about this situation. For — 
not meaning to pay you a compliment — it is exceedingly interesting." 

To have in that way a taste for the interesting is a frightful thing. 
And so also it is a frightful thing to know, under the form of interest- 
ing knowledge, that one's worship is blasphemy, and then to continue 
it, because after all one is used to it. Essentially this is not so much to 
despise God as to despise oneself. One finds it despicable to figure as a 
husband and yet not be one, though this may innocently befall a man 
through a wife's unfaithfulness. One regards it as pitiable to put up with 
such a relationship and remain in it. But to have religion in that way 
(which cannot possibly befall a man except by his own fault), that a 
man knows his worship is blasphemy, and yet is willing to figure as 
having that religion — this in the profoundest sense is to despise oneself. 

Oh, there is something more deplorable than that which men are in- 
clined to regard as the most deplorable fate that can befall a man, there 
is that which is more deplorable! There is an imbecility with respect to 
character, a drivel of characterlessness which is more dreadful than that 
of the understanding, perhaps also more incurable. And the most de- 
plorable thing perhaps that can be said of a man is that he cannot be 
elevated, uplifted, his own knowledge cannot lift him up. Like the boy 
who lets his kite fly aloft, so does he let his knowledge mount on high; 
to follow it with his eye he finds interesting, prodigiously interesting, 
but. does not lift him up, he remains in the mud, more and more 
crazy about the interesting. 

Wherefore, whoever thou art, if such be the case with thee — shame 
upon thee, shame upon thee, shame upon thee! 


A Discourse 


S. Kierkegaard 


Published by C. A. Reitzel's Estate and Heirs 

Bianco Luno's Press 


[The end of August] 

This edifying discourse S.K. published in the midst of his fierce attack 
upon the Established Church, and immediately after the most outrageous 
articles which are to be found in the Instant. Inasmuch as I have already 
published Professor Swenson's translation of this discourse as the conclusion 
of the volume entitled For Selj -Examination (Oxford, 194 1), it does not 
seem necessary to print it here; but at least the title page must be inserted, to 
call attention to the fact that in the midst of this violent controversy S.K. did 
what he could to make his contemporaries understand that in attacking the 
Church he was speaking from within it, as a Christian. 

He began this discourse, as he did all his sermons, with a prayer and a 
text from Holy Scripture; and he dedicated it, as he had dedicated each of 
the first Eighteen Edifying Discourses, "In memory of my deceased father, 
one time hosier in this city." He dated it as of August 1855; but in a brief 
preface (dated May 5, 1854, which was his birthday) he remarked: "This 
discourse was delivered in the Citadel Church on the 18th of May, 1851. 
The text is the first one I ever used. Subsequently it has often been employed. 
Now I return to it again." This favorite text was James 1:17-21, "Every 
good gift and every perfect boon is from above, coming down from the 
Father of lights, with whom can be no variation, neither shadow which is 
cast by turning," etc. 

No. 8 


i. Contemporaneousness: what thou dost as a con- 
temporary is the decisive thing. 

One lives only once. 

An eternity In which to repent. 

4. What can be remembered eternally? 

5. A picture of life and a picture from life. 

The divine justice. 

Tremble — for God is in one sense so infinitely 
easy to hoax! 

September n, 1855. S. Kierkegaard. 


Published by C. A. Reitzel's Estate and Heirs 

Bianco Luno's Press 

From the Journal 


What money is in the world of finiteness, that the concepts are intellec- 
tually and spiritually. It is in them all transactions are conducted. 

If things then go on from generation to generation in such a way that 
everyone takes the concepts as he gets them from the preceding generation 
— and then spends his time enjoying this life and laboring for finite ends, 
etc., it comes to pass only too easily that gradually the concepts are dis- 
torted, become quite different from what they originally were, come to 
mean something entirely different, become like false money — whereas 
quite tranquilly all transactions continue to be conducted by means of 
them, since the falsification does not affect the egoistic interests of men as 
does the dissemination of counterfeit money, especially when the counter- 
feiting of the concepts is precisely in the direction of human egoism, so 
that he who is hoaxed by it is (if I may use the expression) the other 
party in the business of Christianity: God in heaven. 

XI 2 A 36 

Contemporaneousness: what thou dost as a contem- 
porary is the decisive thing* 

"He that receiveth a prophet because he is a prophet shall have a 
prophet's reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man because he is 
a righteous man shall have a righteous man's reward. And whosoever 
shall give to drin\ unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water 
only, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward," says 
our Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew 10:41,42. 

More generous truly than royal or imperial generosity. Only the 
Deity is so generous! 
Yet look a little closer. The question here is about what one does in 
relation to a contemporary, what one does as a contemporary to the 
prophet, the disciple. "Whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these 
little ones a cup of cold water only" — surely it is not on this the emphasis 
lies. No, the emphasis lies upon "because he is a disciple, a prophet." 
So then, if a contemporary were to say, "I am certainly very far from 
regarding the man as a prophet, a disciple; but on the other hand I am 
perfectly willing to offer him a cup of wine"; or if one who perhaps 
privately regarded this man as a disciple, a prophet, but because of 
cowardliness had not the courage to profess his conviction, or meanly 
took advantage of the consideration that the prophet, the disciple, does 
not enjoy recognition as such from his contemporaries, took advantage 
of this to make himself out better than the others by treating the dis- 
ciple, the prophet, decently, but at a cheaper price — if he were to say, 
"I do not regard this man as a prophet, but after all he is an extraor- 
dinary man, and it gives me pleasure to offer him a cup of wine" — 
the answer in either case would be, "No, brother, you can keep your 
cup of wine; it is not about that the Scripture speaks." 

It speaks about giving him a cup of water only — but because he is a 
disciple, a prophet, which means recognizing him fully and clearly for 
what he truly is. What Christ aims at is recognition for a disciple, a 
prophet, and that in the situation of contemporaneousness. Whether the 
recognition is expressed by giving him a cup of cold water, or by giving 
him a kingdom, is entirely indifferent; the point is contemporaneous 

* This article dates from 1853, except that here and there I have inserted a few lines 
or altered a word; but the article as a whole dates from 1853. What my judgment is 
about the concluding paragraph, the reader will know from my article in the Fatherland 
entitled "With regard to the new edition of Training in Christianity" [pp. 54 f. in this 


recognition. So it is not as the mercenary priests with an eye to the 
church-rates make people believe, that since ten dollars is more than a 
cup of cold water, it makes him who gives ten dollars to a prophet, a 
disciple — but not because he is a prophet, a disciple — far more perfect 
than is he who gives him a cup of cold water because he is a prophet, 
a disciple. No, the point is that the gift is "because," being thus an ex- 
pression of the fact that one recognizes the man for what he truly is. 

And this is not easy in the contemporary situation. To this end it is 
not requisite of course to be oneself a prophet, a disciple; but what one 
must have is two-thirds the character of a disciple, a prophet — and do 
not forget that everyone who honestly will can have that. For in the 
contemporary situation this cup of cold water, or rather this "because," 
may cost one dear. For in the contemporary situation or in real life 
the prophet, the disciple, is scorned, derided, hated, cursed, abhorred, 
in every way persecuted; and thou canst be sure that at the very least 
the punishment imposed for handing him a cup of water "because he 
is a disciple" is that spoken of in the New Testament, of being put out 
of the synagogue, which was the punishment imposed in the con- 
temporary situation for having anything to do with Christ, a fact which 
priestly mendacity of course "slurs over, conceals, suppresses, omits," 
whereas it yearns, expresses with hiccoughs, eructations and stifled sobs 
its inexpressible longing to have been contemporary with 
order presumably to be put out of the synagogue — which naturally is 
the deepest yearning of salaried men and persons who enjoy official rank. 

So then, he who gives a disciple a cup of cold water only, because 
he is a disciple, shall in no wise lose his reward, he shall have a prophet's 
reward — and on the other hand he who when the prophet, the disciple, 
is dead builds his tomb and says, "If we" etc., that man, according to 
Christ's judgment, is a hypocrite, his guilt is blood-guilt. 

He is a hypocrite. It may be that contemporary with him who builds 
the tomb of the dead prophet there may again be living a prophet 
whom he in company with others is persecuting. Or if there be living 
no prophet, there is perhaps a righteous man who suffers for the truth — 
whom he who builds the tombs of the prophets persecutes as do the 
others. Or in case there should be no such contemporary living, thy 
way of avoiding hypocrisy is to make so vividly present the life of the 
glorious one departed that therewith thou wilt experience the same 
suffering thou must have experienced if in the contemporary situation 
thou hadst recognized a prophet as being a prophet. 

And if in any way thou art eternally concerned about thy soul, art 


thinking with fear and trembling of the Judgment and eternity; or 
on the other hand if in any way thou art uplifted, and wouldst be 
more so, by the thought of what it is to be a man, and that thou too 
art a man, akin to the glorious ones, the genuine saints, whose worth 
therefore is not attested by the spurious marks of profit, stars and titles, 
but by the genuine marks of poverty, abasement, ill-treatment, persecu- 
tion — then give good heed to this thought of contemporaneousness, 
that if in the contemporary situation there be living such a one who 
suffers for the truth, that thou then suffer what is involved in recogniz- 
ing him for what he is; or, if there be no such contemporary, that thou 
make the life of the glorious departed so vividly present that thou wilt 
suffer like as thou must have suffered in contemporaneousness by rec- 
ognizing him for what he is. Give good heed to this consideration of 
contemporaneousness; for the point is not what ado thou dost make 
over a deceased man; no, but it is what thou art doing in the con- 
temporary situation, or that thou dost make the past so vividly present 
that thou dost experience the same suffering as if thou wert contem- 
porary with it. This determines what man thou art. On the other hand, 
to make much ado over a deceased man — well, naturally that too de- 
termines what man thou art: that according to the judgment of Jesus 
thou art a hypocrite, yea, a murderer, more abhorrent to the deceased 
than those who slew him. 

Take then good heed to this thought of contemporaneousness! And 
to that end do not fail to make thyself acquainted, if already thou hast 
not done so, with the book I published in 1850, Training in Christianity, 
for here precisely this thought is stressed. This book as it makes its 
appearance in the world is for all its militancy a peaceable book. I shall 
indicate to thee precisely how it stands related to the Established Church, 
to the official preaching of Christianity, or to the official representative 
of the official preaching of Christianity, i.e. to Bishop Mynster's preach- 
ing of Christianity. If Bishop Mynster says of it straightforwardly, "This 
truly is Christianity; so it is I myself understand Christianity privately 
in my heart"; then is the book a glorification of the Bishop Mynster's 
preaching of Christianity — a thought so infinitely dear to me! If on the 
other hand Bishop Mynster upon seeing the book so much as blinks at 
it, not to say violently fires up at it 60 — then read it, and thou shalt see 
that it illuminates the whole of Mynster's preaching of Christianity in 
such a way that it proves to be an extraordinary, extraordinary, extraor- 
dinary, most artful and masterly. ..optical illusion. That, however, the 
book cannot help. At all events it is not thine affair. On the other hand, 


if thou thyself art willing, the book can help thee to become attentive 
to the thought of contemporaneousness. 

And this is the decisive thought! This thought is the central thought 
of my life. And I may say too with truth that I have had the honor of 
suffering for bringing this truth to light. Therefore I die gladly, with 
infinite gratitude to Governance that to me it was granted to be aware 
of this thought and to make others attentive to it. Not that I have dis- 
covered it. God forbid that I should be guilty of such presumption. No, 
the discovery is an old one, it is that of the New Testament. But never- 
theless to me it was granted in suffering to bring this thought again to 
remembrance, this thought which, like ratsbane for rats, is poison for 
the "docents,"* this vermin which really is what has brought Christianity 
to ruin, these noble men who build the tombs of the prophets, objec- 
tively expound their doctrine in lectures, derive profit (presumably 
objectively, are proud presumably of their objectivity, for the subjective 
is morbid and affected) out of the suffering and death of these glorious 
ones, but themselves (naturally by the aid of this much lauded objec- 
tivity) keep aloof, far removed from everything which in the remotest 
way might resemble suffering in likeness with the glorious ones, or 
such suffering as one would have had to experience if in the contem- 
porary situation one had recognized the glorious ones for what they 

Contemporaneousness is the decisive thought. Imagine a witness to 
the truth, that is, one of the derivative patterns. For a long time he holds 
out, suffering all sorts of ill-treatment and persecution. Finally they take 
his life. Cruelly they determine the manner of his death, that he is to 
be burnt alive. With inventive cruelty they determine more precisely 
that over a slow fire he is to be broiled upon a grill. 

Imagine this! Earnestness and Christianity require that thou make 
this so vivid to thyself that thou dost experience the suffering thou must 
have experienced if in the contemporary situation thou hadst recognized 
the man for what he is. 

This is earnestness and Christianity. Rather different is the bestial 
practice to which the priests make no objection. Thus one bids good-bye 
to the witness to the truth and all his sufferings — and yet, no, this is 

* Cf. Fear and Trembling, where for the first time I took aim at the docents, these 
base characters, of whom it is said [pp. 95 ff. in the American edition] that "No robber 
of temples condemned to hard labor behind iron bars is so base a criminal as the man 
who pillages holy things, and even Judas who sold his Master for thirty pieces of silver 
is not more despicable than the man who makes traffic of the great." 


not yet the really bestial thing. No, one says, "We will not forget the 
glorious one; therefore we resolve that December 17, 61 which was the 
day of his death, shall be celebrated in his memory. And in order to 
keep well in mind the impression of his life, and in order that our life 
too may acquire 'some likeness' to his, as 'an effort' in that direction, 
be it solemnly ordained that every household shall eat a broiled fish, 
broiled, be it noted (do not miss the point), upon a grill; and the most 
delicious part the priest shall have." That is, the divine worship which 
consists in suffering for the truth, yea, suffering unto death, is ex- 
changed for the worship of eating and drinking, with the priest getting 
the best piece — the genuine (official) Christianity, where the priest, 
like the broiled fish in its way, contributes his part in exalting the solem- 
nity of the day, by a charming speech, it may be, thereby assuring him- 
self of an increasing income in the course of years, perhaps of making 
a brilliant career, perhaps so brilliant that he goes clad in silk and velvet, 
bedecked with stars and ribbons. 

This is only an example. I admit too that none of the derived patterns 
obliges every man absolutely — but neither does it oblige him to bestiality. 
And if the derived patterns do not absolutely oblige us, nor oblige 
absolutely every man; on the other hand, the Pattern, Jesus Christ, does 
oblige us absolutely, and obliges absolutely every man. If then in thy 
time there is no one living who suffers for the truth, so that thou wouldst 
encounter suffering if (as is indeed Christianly thy duty, is Christianly 
the requirement) thou wert to recognize him for what he truly is — 
then thou art to make the Pattern so vividly present that thou dost 
experience such suffering as if in contemporaneousness thou hadst rec- 
ognized him for what he is. All ado made afterwards, all ado about 
building his tomb etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., is, according to the 
judgment of Jesus Christ, hypocrisy and the same blood-guilt as that 
of those who put Him to death. 

This is the Christian requirement. The mildest, mildest form for it 
after all is surely that which I have used in Training in Christianity: 
that thou must admit that this is the requirement, and then have re- 
course to grace. But not only not to be willing to comply with the 
requirement, but to want to have the requirement suppressed — and 
then on the other hand to want to spend money upon a monumental 
tomb, which is what the priest, for good reasons, calls being an earnest 
Christian — is what our Lord Jesus Christ certainly sought most of all 
to prevent. 

One lives only once 

This saying is so often heard in the world, "One lives only once; 
therefore I could wish to see Paris before I die, or to make a fortune as 
soon as possible, or in fine to become something great in the world — 
for one lives only once." 

More rarely we encounter, but it may be encountered nevertheless, a 
man who has only one wish, quite definitely only one wish. "This," 
says he, "I could wish; Oh, that my wish might be fulfilled, for alas, one 
lives only once." 

Imagine such a man upon his deathbed. The wish was not fulfilled, 
but his soul clings unalterably to this wish — and now, now it is no 
longer possible. Then he raises himself on his bed; with the passion of 
despair he utters once again his wish: Oh, despair, it is not fulfilled; 
despair, one lives only once!" 

This seems terrible, and in truth it is, but not as he means it; for 
the terrible thing is not that the wish remained unfulfilled, the terrible 
thing is the passion with which he clings to it. His life is not wasted 
because his wish was not fulfilled, by no manner of means; if his life 
is wasted, it is because he would not give up his wish, would not learn 
from life anything higher than this consideration of his only wish, as 
though its fulfillment or non-fulfillment decided everything. 

The truly terrible thing is therefore an entirely different thing, as for 
example if a man upon his deathbed were to discover, or upon his death- 
bed were to become clearly aware, of that which all his life long he had 
understood more obscurely but had never been willing to understand, 
that the fact of having suffered in the world for the truth is one of the 
requisites for becoming eternally blessed — and one lives only once, that 
once which now is for him already past! And he had it indeed in his 
power! And eternity cannot change, that eternity to which in dying 
he goes' as to his future. 

We men are prone by nature to regard life in this way: we consider 
suffering an evil which in every way we strive to avoid. And if we 
succeed in this, we think that when our last hour comes we have special 
reason for thanking God that we have been spared suffering. We think 
that everything depends upon slipping through life happily and well — 
and Christianity thinks that all that is terrible really comes from the 
other world, that the terrible things of this world are as child's play 
compared with the terrors of eternity, and that it distinctly does not 


depend upon slipping through this life happily and well, but upon 
relating oneself rightly by suffering to eternity. 

One lives only once. If when death comes thy life is well spent, that 
is; spent so that it is related rightly to eternity — then God be praised 
eternally. If not, then it is irremediable — one lives only once. 

One lives only once. So it is here upon earth. And while thou art liv- 
ing this, once, the extension of which in time diminishes with every 
fleeting hour, the God of love is seated in heaven, fondly loving thee, 
too. Yes, loving. Hence He would so heartily that thou finally mightest 
will as He for the sake of eternity would that thou shouldst will, that 
thou mightest resolve to will to suffer, that is, that thou mightest resolve 
to will to love Him, for Him thou canst love only by suffering, or, if thou 
lovest Him as He would be loved, thou wilt have suffering. Remember, 
one lives only once. If that is let slip, if thou hast experienced no suf- 
fering, if thou hast shirked it — it is eternally irremediable. Compel 
thee — no, that the God of love will not do at any price, He would by 
that attain something altogether different from what He desires. How 
could it occur to love to wish to use compulsion to be loved? But Love 
He is, and it is out of love He wills that thou shouldst will as He wills; 
and in love He suffers as only infinite and almighty love can, as no 
man is capable of comprehending, so it is He suffers when thou dost 
not will as He wills. 

God is love. Never was there born a man whom this thought does 
not overwhelm with indescribable bliss, especially when it comes close 
to him in the sense that "God is love" signifies "Thou art loved." The 
next instant, when the understanding comes, "This means to experience 
suffering" — frightful! "Yes, but it is out of love God wills this, it is 
because He would be loved; and that He would be loved by thee is 
the expression of His love to thee" — Well, well then! The next instant, 
so soon as the suffering becomes serious — frightful! "Yes, but it is out 
of love; thou hast no notion how He suffers, because He knows very 
well what pain suffering involves; yet He cannot change, for then He 
must become something else than love" — Well, well then! The next 
instant, so soon as the suffering becomes very serious — frightful! 

Yet beware, beware lest time perhaps go by unprofitably in unprofit- 
able suffering; remember, one lives only once. If this may help thee, 
view the case thus: be assured that God suffers more in love than thou 
dost suffer, though by this He cannot be changed. But above all re- 
member, one lives only once. There is a loss which is eternally irre- 
mediable, so that — still more frightful — eternity, far from effacing the 
recollection of the loss, is an eternal recollection of it. 

An eternity in which to repent 

Let me tell a story. I did not read it in a devotional book but in what 
would be called entertaining literature. Yet I feel no hesitancy in mak- 
ing use of it, and I remark upon this only lest anyone might be disturbed 
by it, if by chance he knows the source of the story or should sub- 
sequently learn where I found it. 62 I would not have him think that I 
conceal this. 

Somewhere in the Orient there lived a poor old couple, husband and 
wife. They possessed, as I have said, nothing but poverty; and naturally 
anxiety about the future increased with the prospect of old age. They 
did not assail heaven with their prayers, for they were too pious for 
that; but nevertheless they continually cried to heaven for help. 

Then it chanced one morning that the wife, going out to the oven, 
found upon the hearth a precious stone of great size, which at once 
she made haste to show to her husband, who, having knowledge of 
such matters, saw at once that they were well provisioned for the rest 
of their life. 

A bright future for this old couple — what joy! Yet, God-fearing as 
they were, and content with little, they resolved that, having enough 
to live upon for still another day, they would not sell the jewel that day. 
But on the morrow it should be sold, and on the morrow a new life 
would begin. 

That night, the night before the morrow, the woman dreamed that 
she was transported into paradise. An angel conducted her around and 
showed her all the glories an oriental imagination could invent. Then 
the angel led her also into a hall where there were long rows of arm- 
chairs completely adorned with pearls and precious stones, which, as 
the angel explained, were for the pious. Finally he showed her also one 
which was intended for her. Looking more closely she saw that on 
the back of the seat there was lacking a very large jewel. She asked 
the angel how that had come about. He 

Now be alert, here comes the story! The angel answered, "That was 
the precious stone you found on the hearth. That you received in ad- 
vance, and it cannot be inserted again." 

In the morning the woman related the dream to her husband, and 
her opinion was that it would be better to hold out the few years longer 
they might have to live, rather than that the precious stone should be 
lacking throughout all eternity. And her pious husband was of the 
same opinion. 


So that evening they laid the stone again upon the hearth and prayed 
God that evening that He would take it back. In the morning, sure 
enough, it was gone. Where it had gone the old couple knew: it was 
now in its right place. 

Truly this man was happily married, his wife was a sensible woman. 
If it be true, as is often said, that there are wives who make their hus- 
bands forget the eternal, yet nevertheless, though all were unmarried, 
everyone has within himself something which more artfully and more 
urgently and more persistently than any woman is able to make a man 
forget the eternal and lead him to measure falsely, as if a few years, 
or ten years, or forty years, were a prodigiously long time, so that 
even eternity becomes something very short in comparison, whereas 
on the contrary these years are a very short time, and eternity prodigi- 
ously long. 

Oh, remember this well! Thou canst perhaps by shrewdness avoid 
what it has pleased God once for all to unite with being a Christian, 
namely, suffering and adversity. Thou canst perhaps, by shrewdly 
evading this to thine own ruin, attain what God has eternally sep- 
arated from being a Christian, namely, enjoyment and all earthly goods. 
Thou canst perhaps, befooled by thy shrewdness, be totally lost at last 
in the vain delusion that it is precisely the right path thou art on, be- 
cause thou dost win the earthly — and then an eternity in which to 
repent! An eternity in which to repent, that is, to repent that thou didst 
not employ time upon that which can be eternally remembered: to 
love God in truth, with the consequence that in this life thou wilt 
suffer at the hands of men. 

Therefore deceive not thyself, of all deceivers fear most thyself! Even 
if it were possible in relation to the eternal to take something in ad- 
vance, thou wouldst yet be deceiving thyself by. ..something in advance — 
and then an eternity in which to repent. 

What can be remembered eternally'? 

Only one thing: to have suffered for the truth. If thou wouldst have 
a care for thine eternal future, take heed to suffer for the truth. 

And the opportunity, an opportunity to suffer for the truth, we have 
of course every second — how could it be otherwise in this world of 
lies and deceit and knavishness and mediocrity? But doubtless thou 
art not mad enough to make use of this opportunity, thou art far too 
shrewd — thou dost use thine acuteness to avoid a clash with this fine 
world, for fear of encountering suffering. At the same time thou art 
perhaps a bit hypocritical with thyself, and inclined to say that thou 
art willing enough to suffer if the opportunity were to present itself. 
O my friend, only thyself dost thou deceive, eternity never. The con- 
sequence is that eternally thou hast nothing to remember, and so wilt 
eternally be plagued by this emptiness and by the tormenting thought 
that thy life was wasted, filled up with what cannot be remembered 

Perhaps thou art living contemporaneously with "a righteous man" 
who suffers for the truth. Here indeed is an opportunity. Recognize 
him for what he is, and thou shalt find suffering in likeness with him! 
But thou — thou thinkest that thou art behaving very shrewdly in not 
recognizing this man aloud and publicly for what he is, but shunning 
him in every way. Or perhaps thou dost think that thou art even be- 
having very nobly, that thou art not like the others, for thou dost rec- 
ognize him for what he is, but in secret, so that no danger is connected 
with it, whereas thou dost not recognize him where danger is involved. 
O my friend, thou art deceiving thyself; foolishly thou didst not use 
the opportunity that was offered, whereby thou wouldst have experi- 
enced suffering for the truth — the only thing that can be remembered 

Yea, the only thing. Take what thou wilt, it is true of everything 
else that it cannot be remembered eternally. Though thou hast loved 
the most beautiful girl, hast lived happily thy whole life long with her, 
the beloved wife — that is not a thing to be remembered, it is made of 
stuff more fragile than eternity. The greatest exploits in the external 
world, to have conquered kingdoms and lands; the most interesting 
and the most exciting developments, to have been the thought in them; 
the greatest discoveries in the natural world, to have been the discoverer, 
etc., are not things that can be remembered eternally. They will perhaps 
be preserved from generation to generation, throughout all subsequent 


ages, but thou thyself wilt not be able to remember them; neither are 
they the eternal truth, nor do they belong to thee eternally. Only one 
thing is left, only one thing is it possible to remember eternally: having 
suffered for the truth. 

Here in the world truth walks in lowliness and humiliation, has not 
where to lay its head, must be thankful if one will give it a cup of wa- 
ter — but if one does this, recognizing it aloud and publicly for what it 
is, then this lowly figure, this lowly, despised, mocked, persecuted 
wretch, the Truth, has, if I may say so, in its hand a stylus and writes 
upon a little tablet "For eternity," which it hands to the man who con- 
scientiously recognized it for what it is. His name is laid up in heaven, 
his life was employed in that which indeed a man is most reluctant to 
employ it, in doing the only thing which can be remembered eternally. 

Whoever thou art, reflect upon this! Shun above all things the leader- 
ship of the priests. This surely thou also canst well comprehend, that 
from tradesmen thou wilt not learn anything true about the suffering 
truth, i.e. about Christianity. Shun them, they cheat thee out of the 
eternal by making thee believe that thou canst acquire the eternal upon 
any other terms than suffering. Watch thyself. For precisely this is the 
seriousness of existence, that thou art placed in a world where the 
voice which calls thee to the right path speaks very softly, whereas thou- 
sands of voices outside thee and within thee speak loudly enough about 
the very opposite — precisely this is the seriousness, that this voice speaks 
softly because it would test thee, whether thou wilt listen to even the 
slightest whisper. Reflect that it is not eternity which has need of thee, 
so that for its own sake it must raise its voice loudly when the other 
voices become loud; no, it is thou that hast need of eternity, and it 
would test thee — oh, the seriousness of it! Thine attention therefore be- 
comes softer in proportion as the other voices become louder, as they 
cannot become except through thy fault. Nothing is easier than to 
drown out the voice of eternity which speaks about suffering for the 
truth and says that this is the only thing which can be remembered 
eternally. To this end the priests are not needed, but by their help this 
becomes of course the easiest thing in the world. Dreadful! To deceive 
oneself eternally! And again dreadful that this is so frightfully easy 
to do, that eternity is so serious that one may say that the easiest thing 
for a man to do is.. .to deceive himself eternally! 

A picture of life 


a picture from life 

Take the pupils in a class — which is most admired by his comrades? 
Is it the laziest? No, that is out of the question. Is it the most industri- 
ous? Not that either. Is it then the one who has the greatest gifts of 
mind? Not that either. But if there is one who has the shrewdness to 
know how to deceive the teachers, and does it so adroitly that he always 
comes out of it well, always has good marks, always stands high in 
the class, always is praised and cited for distinction — he is the admired 
one. And why? Because his comrades understand very well that he 
has a double advantage. He has the advantage which the lazy boy also 
has, that he really does nothing, has constantly plenty of time to play 
and to amuse himself — an advantage which the lazy boy has too, but 
he suffers punishment for it. And then he has also the advantage which 
the diligent student has, he is the admired one. Of him his comrades 
say admiringly, "Ludvigsen, Ludvigsen, he's the very devil of a man." — 
"But Frederiksen is more industrious." — "Oh well, what good does that 
do him? Ludvigsen always has just as good marks, so Frederiksen 
has only one thing to the good — the trouble of studying." — "Yes, but 
Olsen after all has a much better head." — "Bah, a fig for that. That 
doesn't do him much good, it rather gives him more bother. No, Lud- 
vigsen is the very devil of a man." 

This was a picture of life. Now I go on to a picture from life. 

In this world which is the most admired teacher of Christianity? 
Is it the shamelessly worldly man who sans phrase and without disguise 
admits that he seeks after the earthly, after money, power, etc., and 
succeeds in attaining it? No, that is out of the question. Is it then the 
truly pious man who takes Christianity seriously, therefore actually is 
without this world's goods and pleasures, so that his life is an exposition 
of the Apostle's saying, "If in this life only we have hope, we are of 
all men most pitiable"? No, not that either. 

But if there is one who has the shrewdness to know how to deceive 
God, and in such a way that he always comes out of it well and wins 
(perhaps more surely than the shameless worlding) all worldly goods 
and pleasures, while constantly he is the pious man, the God-fearing 
man, the man of God, earnestness itself — he is the admired one. And 
why ? Because he wins a double advantage : worldly goods — and at the 


same time the glory, the halo of the saint, and the corresponding respect 
and deference. 

And if he is able to do this with such infinite adroitness that nobody, 
nobody at all can see through it, then the game is in his hands, this is 
the veritable ne plus ultra, peerless, unique— especially for womenfolks, 
but also for men, too. But especially for womenfolks; for it cannot 
be denied that woman was so made once for all that if she is to relish 
anything thoroughly, in particular if she is to be exalted in admira- 
tion, adoring admiration, there must be a shiver of dread {Angst) 
mixed with it. And of that in this situation there is a tiny bit. In the 
midst of the most blissful exaltation, in the midst of the most heavenly 
rapture prompted by the admired one, there is afar off, but yet it 
is there, a dread whether after all it might not be . . . But no, that is 
impossible! And this composition produces...adoring admiration. 

There is nothing so objectionable to God as hypocrisy. According to 
God's appointment the precise task of life is to be converted, trans- 
formed, because by nature every man is a born hypocrite. 

There is nothing the world so much admires as the finer and finest 
forms of hypocrisy. 

The finer and the finest forms of hypocrisy! In this connection, how- 
ever, one must observe that these forms may sometimes occur in such 
a way that they are not always the most guilty qualities in the person 
concerned. Given great talents, extraordinary shrewdness and weak 
character, this combination will yield one of the finest forms of hypoc- 
risy, whereas the person in question is perhaps not so guilty, before 
God not so guilty. On the other hand it is quite certain that precisely 
this form is for other men the most dangerous of all, that is to say to 
other men who are related receptively, as learners, to such a teacher. 83 

The divine justice 

If ever you have paid any attention to how things go in this world, 
you have probably like others before you turned away from the whole 
thing and said to yourself mournfully, "Is this a just rule? What has 
become of divine justice?" Encroachment upon the property of others, 
thievery, fraud, in short, everything that has to do with money (the 
god of this world), is punished, punished severely in this world. Even 
what hardly can be called felony, that a poor man, it may be only by a 
look, implores a passerby is punished severely — so severely are crimes 
punished in this...righteous world! But the most dreadful crimes, such 
as taking the holy in vain, taking the truth in vain, and in such a way 
that the man's life is every day a continuous lie — in this situation no 
retributive justice is seen to interfere with him. On the contrary, he 
has leave to expand without hindrance, to spread his toils about a larger 
or smaller circle of people, perhaps a whole community, which in its 
adoring i admiration rewards him with all earthly goods. Where then 
is divine justice? 

To this the answer may be made: It is the divine justice precisely 
which in its frightful severity permits things to go on thus. It is present, 
all eyes, but it hides itself; precisely for the sake of being able to reveal 
itself wholly for what it is, it would not reveal itself prematurely; 
whereas when it reveals itself it is seen that it was at hand, present in 
even the least event. For in case the divine justice were to intervene 
swiftly, the really capital crimes could not wholly come into existence. 
The man who in weakness, infatuated by his lust, transported by his 
passions, but yet out of weakness, took the wrong path, the path of sin — 
upon him divine justice takes compassion and lets the punishment fall, 
the sooner the better. But the really capital criminal — remember now 
what it was you deplored, that justice was so mild, or did not exist at 
all! — him divine providence makes blind, so that to his eyes it seems 
delusively as if his life were pleasing to God, seems as if he had suc- 
ceeded in making God blind. How frightful thou art, O divine justice! 

Let no one be disturbed any more by this objection against divine 
justice. For precisely in order that it may be justice it must first allow 
the crime to develop its entire guilt. But the really capital crime needs — 
mark this well! — the whole of temporality to come into existence; it 
is the capital crime properly speaking by being continued through a 
whole life. But in fact no crime can be punished before it comes into 
existence. So this objection falls to the ground. The point of the objec- 


tion really is that God ought to punish so quickly that He ought (for 
that's what it means) to punish the thief before he steals. But if the 
crime must exist before it is punished, and if the capital crime (precisely 
that at which you take offense) needs a whole lifetime to come into 
existence, then it cannot be punished in this life; to punish it in this 
life would not be to punish it but to prevent it, just as it would not be 
punishing theft if one were to punish the thief before he stole, but it 
would be preventing the theft, and preventing the man from becoming 
a thief. 

Therefore never complain when you see the dreadful crime succeed 
which would stir up your mind against God; do not complain, rather 
tremble and say, "O just God! So this man then was one of the capital 
criminals whose crime requires a whole life in order to come into exist- 
ence, and only in eternity can be punished." 

So then it is precisely severity which accounts for the fact that the 
capital crime is not punished in this world. Also it is perhaps sometimes 
due to God's care for others. That is to say, there is a difference between 
man and man; one man may be in a high degree superior to another. 
But this too is an example of superiority, to be capable of being the 
capital criminal. So Governance leaves him unpunished, also because 
it would thoroughly confuse our conceptions if we should perceive that 
he was a criminal. You see that the case may be far worse than you 
conceived it when you complained that God did not punish what you 
can see was a crime. From time to time there has perhaps lived a crim- 
inal on such a scale that no one, no one at all, had a presentiment of it; 
yea, that it was as though God, if He had punished him, would not 
have been able to make Himself understood by the men amongst whom 
this criminal lived, that by wishing to punish him in time (apart from 
the fact that this would have prevented the crime) God must almost 
throw into confusion the men amongst whom this criminal lived; and 
that in His love and care for men He could not find it in His heart to 
do. So then the man remains unpunished in time. Frightful! 

Yea, tremble at the thought that there are crimes which need a whole 
lifetime to come into existence, which sometimes perhaps, out of in- 
dulgence towards us others, cannot be punished in this life. Tremble, 
but do not impeach God's justice. No, tremble at the thought of this 
(how frightful it sounds when one expresses it thus!), this dreadful 
advantage of being able only to be punished in eternity. Only to be 
punished in eternity — O merciful God! Every criminal, every sinner, 
who can be punished in this world, can also be saved, saved for eternity! 


But that criminal whose distinction was that he cannot be punished 
in this world, also cannot be saved, cannot by being punished in time be 
saved for eternity; no, he can (that indeed was his advantage!) only 
be punished in eternity. Does it seem to you that there is reason to 
complain of God's justice? 

Tremble — for God is in one sense so infinitely 
easy to hoax! 

The way people generally talk, if they talk about such things (but 
talk about such things as trembling is rapidly going out of fashion), 
is to give this turn to the matter : Tremble, for it is impossible to deceive 
God, He is the Omniscient, the Omnipotent. And that too is certainly 
true. Nevertheless I believe that by constantly stating the case thus one 
will not attain the desired end. 

No: tremble — God is in one sense so infinitely easy to hoax! O my 
friend, He is something so infinitely exalted, and thou on the other 
hand art so infinitely nothing in comparison with Him, that thy sleep- 
less effort in mortal dread throughout a whole life, aiming to please 
Him and to heed every hint of His, is yet infinitely too little to implore, 
deservedly, even for a single instant, His attention. And Him thou 
wouldst cheat! Therefore tremble, that is to say, watch, watch! He has 
a punishment which He Himself regards as the most frightful — He too 
is the only one who has a true conception of the infinite that He is. 
This punishment is : not to be willing to be conscious (as in one sense, 
in consequence of His exaltation, He is not) of the nothing which thou 
art. For an almighty being it must indeed (if one may speak thus) be 
the greatest exertion to have to look at a nothing, be conscious of a 
nothing, be concerned about a nothing. And then this nothing would 
hoax Him! O man, shudder, this is so infinitely easy to do! 

Let me make this thought clear. Take a simple citizen — whom might 
one say it would be most difficult for this citizen to hoax? Would it 
not be precisely his equal? For this equal of his is concerned to watch 
out that he be not hoaxed, "I really cannot endure being hoaxed by 
him," etc. A superior man, a man of rank, the simple citizen will find 
it easier to hoax, for — after all the thing doesn't much concern the man 
of rank. The King still easier, for his Majesty does not concern him- 
self at all about it. Do not misunderstand me. I evidently cannot mean 
that the superior man, or the King, if the thing should concern him, 
might not be able to see that this good citizen is hoaxing him; but he 
is not concerned at all about this simple citizen. Remember the tale 
of the fly and the stag. Thou wilt recall that the fly settled upon one of 
the antlers and said to the stag, "I hope I am not a burden to you." "I 
was not aware of your existence," was the reply . c * The citizen's task 
might reasonably be, if it were possible, by his honesty, by his upright- 
ness, to succeed in attracting his Majesty's attention. On the other hand, 


it is so infinitely stupid and lacking in spirit to wish to hoax the man 
who is too infinitely exalted to be able to concern himself about him — 
it is so infinitely easy to do! 

And think how infinitely exalted is God, and think of the nothing 
which thou art — and tremble at the thought how infinitely easy it is 
to hoax God! Thou dost think perhaps because thou art accustomed 
to address Him as "Thou," because thou hast known Him very well 
from childhood up, because thou art accustomed lightmindedly to 
mingle His name with all sorts of talk, that God is thy comrade, that 
thou art related to Him as one barman to another, that therefore He 
will at once make an outcry when He notices that thou dost wish to 
hoax Him, to falsify His Word, to pretend that thou dost not under- 
stand it, etc., and that if He doesn't do this, it is a proof that thou 
hast succeeded in hoaxing Him. O man, shudder at thy success! 

Yea, in His exaltation God Himself disposes the situation in such 
a way that it is as easy as possible for a man, if he will, to hoax God. 
That is, He disposes it in such a way that those whom He loves and 
who love Him must suffer dreadfully in this world, so that everyone 
can see that they are forsaken of God. The deceivers, on the other hand, 
make a brilliant career, so that everyone can see that God is with them, 
an opinion in which they themselves are more and more confirmed. 

So superior is God; so far He is from making it difficult, so infinitely 
easy it is to deceive Him, that He Himself even offers a prize to him 
who does it, rewards him with everything earthly. Tremble, O man! 


No. 9 



Thus the case stands. 


That the ideals must be proclaimed — otherwise 

Christianity is falsified in its deepest root. 


A dose of pessimism. 


Be frivolous — and you will see, all difficulties 



That the priests are cannibals, and that in the 

most odious way. 


The priest not only proves the truth of Chris- 

tianity, but he disproves it at the same time. 

Sept. 24, 1855. S. Kierkegaard. 


Published by C. A. Reitzel's Estate and Heirs 

Bianco Luno's Press 

From the Journal 


When I think of what in my father's time was understood by a shop- 
clerk: an awkward Jewish bumpkin — and of what now is understood by it: 
a nimble, brisk fellow, a chevalier, etc. — this indeed is progress of a sort. 

It is pretty much the same now with a modern clergyman: a nimble, 
adroit, lively man, who in pretty language, with the utmost ease, with 
graceful manners, etc., knows how to introduce a little Christianity, but as 
easily, as easily as possible. In the New Testament, Christianity is the 
profoundest wound that can be inflicted upon a man, calculated on the most 
dreadful scale to collide with everything — and now the clergyman has 
perfected himself in introducing Christianity in such a way that it signifies 
nothing, and when he is able to do this to perfection he is regarded as a 
paragon. But this is nauseating! Oh, if a barber has perfected himself in 
removing the beard so easily that one hardly notices it, that's well enough; 
but in relation to that which is precisely calculated to wound, to perfect 
oneself so as to introduce it in such a way that if possible it is not noticed 
at all — that is nauseating. 

XI 1 A 69 

Thus the case stands 

May 31, 1855. 

The one party is a man who by his activity as an author through 
many years, and by his whole existence as a public personality, 
gives assurance (guarantees) of being, as not many are, perhaps as no 
other in this land is, justified in having a word to say about what 
Christianity is. 

The other party is the clergy, which at first was voluble enough, 
so long as it was a question of this easy thing of taking advantage of 
the circumstance that there was a deceased man who had to be 
talked about in order to stir up womankind and children by funeral 
declamations; but thereupon, when the matter became serious, preserved 
in print the profoundest silence, but (with the courage of witnesses 
to the truth) is perhaps in secret all the more chatty. 

The attack upon me — for the benefit of the "witnesses to the truth," 
whose silence is thereby made thoroughly manifest — is conducted by 
the Copenhagen Post and the Flying Post 65 ; and the point, the deadly 
sting, of their attack is that I am called..."S0ren." 

Only one thing now is lacking, that as a witness to the truth Bishop 
Martensen too might (if there should be another rumpus, so that the 
Bishop, "like the boys on New Year's Eve, might think that he saw his 
chance" 06 ) write an article against me, making the point that I am 
called "S0ren." Then I must sink down, succumb before this power 
of the truth, which in vain I should strive to resist; for the truth is, my 
name is S0ren. 

Beloved Father of mine deceased, to think that thou shouldst become 
my misfortune! Viewed ideally, I have conquered; I deserved to — but 
my name is S0ren. 

But I shall put up with it — O my God, "gladly and thankfully" — put 
up with the bad temper of impotence. But it is another question whether 
the Danish people is well served by this labor to make it ridiculous, 
ridiculous in the eyes of every other nation which learns to know that 
this is a people among which the only argument used against mind 
and spirit is...that a man is called "S0ren." 

So I repeat: "This must be said: by ceasing to take part (if usually 
thou dost) in the public worship of God, as it now is, thou hast con- 
stantly one guilt the less, and that a great one." Whoever thou art, 
beware; thou surely wilt not come into eternity, if thou dost not take 


the matter of religion more seriously than by contenting thyself with 
an optical illusion as thy divine worship and taking part in treating 
God as a fool. Not for the sake of this life do we have religion, in order 
to get through this life happily and well, but it is for the sake of the 
other life. In this other life lies the seriousness of religion. And from 
the other world is addressed to thee as well as to me the Word of God: 
"Be not deceived, God will not sjuffer Himself to be mocked." No, He 
will not suffer Himself to be mocked, He will not endure eternally 
what He does not by His omnipotence prevent from occurring in time, 
that under the name of divine worship men get exactly the opposite 
from that which Christianity is in the New Testament. And the fact 
that this has come about slowly and sneakingly in the lapse of centuries 
may excuse but it will not help thee. Above all then, let not thyself be 
deluded by the priests. Believe me, or merely look an instant, impartially, 
at the New Testament, and thou wilt see that Christianity did not come 
into the world in order to assure the priests of a flourishing and agree- 
able business as their livelihood, and to tranquillize thee in thy natural 
state; but that, with the renunciation of all things, it came into the world 
in order by the terrors of eternity to tear thee out of the tranquillity 
in which thou naturally art. 

In what has occurred up to this time there is only one thing which 
makes me shudder; and I shudder again when I reflect upon what I 
know, that even when I speak of this I shall not be understood. 

What makes me shudder is this. While my life, though it is weak 
in comparison with the glorious ones who have lived, expresses never- 
theless the thought of fighting for eternity with anxiety for the salvation 
of one's soul, I stand surrounded by contemporaries who at the very 
most are interested in this as "the public." In a fleeting way a man per- 
haps allows himself to be gripped by what I say, the next instant he 
judges it aesthetically, the next instant he reads what is written against 
me, then he is curious about the outcome, etc., etc.; in short, he is "the 
public." And not to any one of them does it occur that by being men 
they are subjected to the same conditions as I am, that they too must 
expect an accounting of eternity, and that one thing is certain, that 
eternity is closed to everything which in this life has no will to be more 
than "the public" — "just like the others." This makes me shudder, that 
these men are living in the notion that it is I who am in danger, whereas 
after all, eternally understood, I am much less in danger than they, 
inasmuch as I am fighting for eternity. And I shudder again when I 


reflect that this goes on in "Christendom," that these contemporaries 
therefore are a community of Christians which has 1000 teachers sworn 
upon the New Testament — and then the truth is that these teachers have 
no vaguest notion of what Christianity is. This is horrible. It is horrible 
for me to be in such a degree in the right in what I say, when I say that 
Christianity does not exist at all, and when I state how this fact hangs 
together with the preaching of Christianity by the "witnesses to the 

That the ideals must be proclaimed — otherwise 
Christianity is falsified in its deepest root 

Take another situation. There is a proverb which says, "It's a poor 
soldier who does not hope to become a general." 

So it should be; if there is to be life and enthusiasm in an army, this 
proverb ought to inspire all : a poor soldier who does not hope to become 
a general. 

Rather different is that which experience teaches from generation to 
generation, that out of the prodigious mass of soldiers only a few even 
become noncommissioned officers, very few lieutenants, rarely several 
individuals become staff officers, very seldom by way of exception one 
becomes a general. 

Now reverse the situation. One starts out with what experience 
teaches, what has been verified again and again from generation to 
generation — and thereupon one speaks thus: "It is foolishness for a 
soldier to cherish the notion of becoming a general. Be content with 
what you are, just as we are content, content with what experience 
teaches, that the thousands get no further." Is not this to demoralize the 
army ? 

So it is in the Christian sphere. Instead of proclaiming the ideals, 
they educe what experience teaches, what the experience of all the 
centuries has taught, that the millions get no further than mediocrity. 

Thus they apply Christianity tranquillizingly; a base priestly lie, but 
one which pays, applying Christianity tranquillizingly, whereas instead 
it is in the deepest sense arousing, disquieting] They apply it tran- 
quillizingly: "To strive after the ideals is folly, stupidity, madness, it 
is pride, conceit (things which are offensive to God) ; the via media is 
the true wisdom; be tranquil, you are completely like the millions; 
and the experience of all the centuries teaches that one gets no further! 
Be tranquil, you are like the others, will become blessed like all the 
others" — a euphemism for: You are going to hell like all the others. 
But this truth will not produce money, and the other teaching pays 

If there lives an individual who is not content with, will not be tran- 
quillized by that sort of blessedness, then the whole mass, commanded 
by the perjurers, turns against him, declares him an egoist, a dreadful 
egotist, for not wanting to be like the others. 


The New Testament, however, is always in the right; for sure 
enough this individual encounters the genuine Christian collisions: 
of being hated by men because he is determined to be...a Christian. 
The only difference is that these men are costumed as Christians, are 
titularly Christians, and are led — how solemn! — by teachers who have 
taken an oath upon the New Testament. 

In this way they have demoralized Christendom by doing exactly 
the opposite of proclaiming the ideals. 

But what does it avail them ? what does it avail that by the assistance 
of priestly lies they get this life made easy and comfortable? They do 
not fool eternity. And inflexibly as the human race stands up for its 
will to punish, to punish even by death, those who are not willing to 
be like the others, just so firmly does eternity stick to its purpose of 
punishing with eternal perdition those who are tranquillized by being 
like the others. 

A dose of pessimism 

Just as man — by nature — desires what is able to sustain and revive 
the lust of life, so does he who is to live for the eternal need constantly 
a dose of pessimism, in order not to dote upon this world, but rather 
learn to loathe and be weary of and disgusted with the foolishness and 
lies o£ this wretched world. 

The God-Man is betrayed, mocked, deserted by all, all, all; not a 
single one, literally not a single one remains faithful to Him — and then 
afterwards, afterwards, afterwards there are millions who have made 
pilgrimage to the places where, many hundreds of years before, His 
foot perhaps has left a trace; afterwards, afterwards, afterwards millions 
have worshiped a splinter of the cross upon which He was crucified. 

And so it is always, contemporaneously; but afterwards, afterwards, 

Must not one then be disgusted at being a man? 

Again, must not one be disgusted at being a man! For those millions 
who upon their knees made the pilgrimage to His grave, the human 
crowd which no power was able to disperse : only one thing was needed, 
that Christ should come again — and all these millions would at once 
acquire feet and take to their heels, the whole crowd would be as if 
blown away; or perhaps as a mass would stand upright and fall upon 
Christ to put Him to death. 

What Christ, what the Apostles, what every witness to the truth de- 
sires as the only imitation — the only thing humanity has no 
taste for, takes no pleasure in. 

No, take away the danger...that we may play — then the battalions 
of the human race perform marvels of mimicry. Instead of the imita- 
tion of Christ we have (Oh, nausea!) the sacred apish tricks — under the 
leadership and command (Oh, nausea!) of perjured priests, who serve 
as sergeants, lieutenants, etc., ordained men, who therefore have for 
this serious business the special support of a Holy Spirit. 

Be frivolous — and you will see, all difficulties 
disappear ! 

If by this advice I meant to teach the human race what it has to do 
in the future, it might well be said of me that I come too late, prodigi- 
ously late! For this has with striking good fortune and triumphant 
success been practiced for centuries. 

Whereas every higher conception of life (even in paganism at its best, 
not to speak of Christianity) takes the view that the task for men is 
to strive after kinship with the Deity, and that this effort makes life 
difficult, all the more difficult in proportion as the effort is more earnest, 
more vigorous, more strenuous; the human race has in the course of 
time come to think differently about the significance of life and man's 
task in it. Shrewd as the human race is, it has ferreted out the secret of 
existence, has scented the fact that, if one would have life made easy 
(and that is just what men want), this is readily accomplished: one 
need only minimize more and more one's own significance, the sig- 
nificance of being a man — then life becomes easier and easier. Be friv- 
olous — and you will see, all difficulties disappear! 

There once was a time when "woman" was essentially determined 
[forholt sig til sig selv\ by the conception of her emotion. One sorrow 
was enough to determine her way of life for a whole lifetime. The death 
of her beloved or his unfaithfulness was enough; she understood it 
as her task to be lost for this life, and that to carry this out consistently 
implies long, long inward struggles and temptations, occasions many a 
painful conflict with the surrounding world, in short, makes life dif- 
ficult. And therefore to what purpose all these difficulties? Be frivo- 
lous — and you will see, all these difficulties disappear! The death or 
unfaithfulness of the beloved becomes at the most a little pause, pretty 
much like sitting out a dance at the ball. Half an hour later she is danc- 
ing with a new cavalier — it would be tiresome too to have to dance all 
night with one cavalier — and as for eternity, it is expedient to have more 
than one when one knows that there will be several waiting for her 
there. You see, all difficulties disappear, life becomes pleasant, cheerful, 
gay, easy, in short, it is a glorious world to live in, if only one knows 
how to adapt oneself rightly to it — by being frivolous. 

There once was a time when "man" was essentially determined by a 
great conception of what it is to be a man of character. One had prin- 
ciples, principles which at no price one would abandon or let go, one 


would give up one's life, expose oneself throughout a whole lifetime 
to every ill-treatment, rather than give way in the least degree with 
respect to one's principles; for one knew that to give way in the least 
respect with relation to principles is to give them up, and to give up 
one's principles is to give up oneself. Thereby life of course became 
sheer difficulty. And therefore to what purpose all these difficulties? 
Be frivolous — and you will see, all these difficulties disappear! Be friv- 
olous: have today one view, tomorrow another, then again the one 
you had yesterday, and again a new one on Friday. Be frivolous : turn 
yourself into several persons, parcel yourself out, have one view anony- 
mously, another in your own name, one orally, another in writing, one 
as a professional view, another in private, one as the husband of your 
wife, another at the club — and you will see, all difficulties disappear, 
you will see that, whereas all men of character, and in the same measure 
as they are men of character, have found out and borne witness that 
this world is a mediocre world, a poor, wretched, depraved and evil 
world, you, however, will see, you will find, that this world is a glorious 
world, just as though it were contrived for you! 

There once was a time when man was essentially determined by an 
infinite conception of what it is to be a Christian, when he took seriously 
the thing of "dying to the world," of hating oneself, of suffering for 
the doctrine, and then found life so difficult, yea, so agonizing, that 
even the most hardy almost sank down under the difficulties, shrank 
like worms, and even the most humble-minded were not far from de- 
spair. And therefore to what purpose all these difficulties? Be frivo- 
lous — and you will see, all these difficulties disappear! Be frivolous — 
and then be yourself a priest, a dean, a bishop, who (by virtue of a 
sacred oath upon the New Testament) once a week for three-quarters 
of an hour patters something very lofty, but for the rest bids adieu to 
everything high, or be yourself a layman who for three-quarters of an 
hour is uplifted by the lofty things the priest patters, but for the rest 
bids adieu to everything high — and you will see, all difficulties dis- 
appear! Falsify then in its deepest roots God's and Christianity's view 
of this life; let it be to you a sign that the way is the right one, that 
the way is well pleasing to God, when you note that (in precise contra- 
diction to God's Word) it is easy — and you will see, all the difficulties 
disappear, this world becomes a glorious world, more glorious and 
more agreeable and more easy for every century we live in this way. 
And be quite unabashed; believe me, you have no need to be ashamed 

be frivolous! 267 

of yourself, the whole company is of the same quality, the eulogy there- 
fore is ready for you, the eulogy upon your shrewdness, the eulogy of 
the others, who by pronouncing a eulogy upon you (how shrewdly 
calculated!) are eulogizing themselves, and who therefore would con- 
demn you only if you were not. the others. 

The priests are cannibals, and that in the most 
odious way 

Everyone understands what cannibals are, they are man-eaters. One 
shudders at hearing or reading about this frightful practice, that there 
are savages who kill their enemies in order to eat them. One shudders, 
one is inclined to disavow kinship with such beings, to deny that they 
are men. 

I shall now show that the priests are cannibals, and in a far more 
odious way. 

What is the Christianity of the New Testament? It is the suffering 
truth. In this mediocre, miserable, sinful, evil, ungodly world (this is 
the Christian doctrine) the truth must suffer, Christianity is the suffer- 
ing truth because it is the truth and is in this world. 

For this reason the Founder not only suffered death upon the cross, 
but His whole life was suffering from first to last. For this reason the 
Apostles suffered, for this reason the witness to the truth. And the 
Saviour required one thing, the Apostles after Him required the same 
thing, and the witness to the truth required only one thing: imitation. 

But what does the "priest" do ? This educated man is far from being 
crazy. "To imitate him! What a proposal to make to a shrewd man! 
First this shrewd man must have undergone a transformation, he must 
have become crazy, before it could occur to him to go in for such a 
thing. No, but might it not be feasible to describe the sufferings of these 
glorious ones, to preach their teaching as doctrine, and in such a way 
that it would yield so much profit that a man could live off of it, marry 
on it, beget children who are fed on it? That is to say, is it not feasible 
to turn the glorious ones into money, or to eat them, with wife and 
children to live by eating them?" 

Here you have the cannibals, the proof that the priests are cannibals. 
O ye glorious ones, departed this life; in the animal world, which is 
called a parte potiori, the world of man, it is your fate in life and after 
death to be eaten: while you live you are eaten by the contemporary 
vermin, at last you are put to death, and when you are dead the real 
cannibals take hold, the priests who live by eating you! As in the farm- 
houses at the slaughtering season provision for the winter is salted 
away, so the "priest" keeps in brine tubs the glorious ones who were 
required to suffer for the truth. In vain the deceased man cries out, 
"Follow me, follow me!" "That was a good joke," replies the priest. 
"No, keep your mouth shut and stay where you are. What nonsense 


to require that I should follow you, I who have to live precisely by eat- 
ing you, and not I alone, but my wife and my children! To suppose 
that I should follow you, perhaps myself become a sacrifice — instead of 
living off you, or eating you, so as to make the most brilliant career, to 
earn money like grass for me and my wife and children, who, if only 
you could see them, thrive in a way it is a pleasure to look at." 

This is cannibalism, and it is the most odious form of it, as I shall 
now show. 

1. The cannibal is a savage; the priest is an educated, a cultivated 
man, which makes the abomination far more revolting. 

2. The cannibal eats his enemies. Quite differently the "priest." He 
makes a show of being devoted in the highest degree to the man whom 
he eats. The priest, precisely the priest, is the most devoted friend of 
these glorious ones. "Only hear him, hear how he is able to describe 
their sufferings and preach their doctrine. Does he not deserve a silver 
centerpiece, the cross of a knightly order, a whole stock of embroidered 
armchairs, a few thousand more a year, this grand man who, himself 
moved almost to tears, can so describe the sufferings of the glorious 
ones?" The cannibal is not like that; he admits openly that he is a man- 
eater, and he does not call the man he eats his friend; he calls him his 
enemy, and himself the enemy of this man. The priest on the contrary 
conceals with the greatest possible care that he is a cannibal (like the 
crocodile with its piteous tears), he conceals it by making a show of 
being most devoted precisely to the man he eats. The priest binds him- 
self by an oath upon the New Testament, therefore binds himself to 
imitation, to the obligation of following the Saviour of the world — and 
then says good-bye to imitation, but with his family he lives by describ- 
ing His sufferings (that is, by eating Him), by preaching His doctrine, 
by making a show of being a true, devoted disciple of the Crucified. 
"You should hear him on Sundays! That man is a true disciple of 
Christ, in such an affecting way he can describe Christ's sufferings 
and bear witness to Him. . . . Does he not deserve velvet stripes on the 
front of his gown, and stars, and thousands a year?" 

3. The cannibal does it all in no time: savagely he springs up, over- 
powers his enemy, puts him to death, eats a bit of him. Then it's all over. 
Then he lives again off his customary food, until another time when 
savage hatred of his enemy comes over him. 

It is different with the "priest" as a cannibal. His cannibalism is 
well thought out, cunningly planned, calculated on the basis of having 
nothing else to live on throughout his whole life, and that what one 


has to live on must suffice to feed a man with a family, in such a way 
that from year to year it yields more. The priest is snugly settled in his 
rural residence, with the prospect also of attractive promotion; his 
wife is plumpness itself, and his children no less. And all this is due to... 
the sufferings of the glorious ones, the Saviour, the Apostles, the witness 
to the truth, on this the priest lives, these men he eats, and with a joyful 
zest for life he feeds them to his wife and children. He keeps these 
glorious ones in brine tubs. Their cry, "Follow me, follow me!" is in 
vain. For a time he may perhaps defend himself against this cry, lest 
(in conjunction with the oath he has taken) it might make a disturbing 
impression upon his whole business venture. In the course of years he 
becomes so hardened against this cry that he hears it no more. At the 
beginning it is perhaps with a certain sense of shame he hears himself 
called a true disciple of Christ. In the course of years he has become so 
accustomed to hearing it that he himself believes he is that. Then he 
dies, as fundamentally depraved as it is possible for a man to be — and 
he is buried as a witness to the truth. 

The priest not only proves the truth of Christianity, 
but he disproves it at the same time 

There is only one relation to revealed truth: believing it. 

The fact that one believes can only be proved in one way: by being 
willing to suffer for one's faith. And the degree of one's faith is proved 
only by the degree of one's willingness to suffer for one's faith. 

In that way Christianity came into the world, being served by wit- 
nesses who were willing absolutely to suffer everything for their faith, 
and actually had to suffer, to sacrifice life and blood for the truth. 

The courage of their faith makes an impression upon the human 
race, leading it to the following conclusion : What is able thus to inspire 
men to sacrifice everything, to venture life and blood, must be truth. 

This is the proof which is adduced for the truth of Christianity. 

Now on the contrary the priest is so kind as to wish to make it a 
livelihood. But a livelihood is exactly the opposite of suffering, of being 
sacrificed, in which the proof consists: it is the opposite of proving the 
truth of Christianity by the fact that there have lived men who have 
sacrificed everything, ventured life and blood for Christianity. 

Here then is the proof and the disproof at the same time! The proof 
of the truth of Christianity from the fact that one has ventured every- 
thing for it, is disproved, or rendered suspect, by the fact that the priest 
who advances this proof does exactly the opposite. By seeing the glori- 
ous ones, the witnesses to the truth, venture everything for Christianity, 
one is led to the conclusion: Christianity must be truth. By considering" 
the priest one is led to the conclusion : Christianity is hardly the truth, 
but profit is the truth. 

No, the proof that something is truth from the willingness to suffer 
for it, can only be advanced by one who himself is willing to suffer for 
it. The priest's proof: proving the truth of Christianity by the fact that 
he takes money for it, profits by, lives off of, being steadily promoted, 
with a family, lives off of. ..the fact that others have suffered, is a self- 
contradiction, Christianly regarded, it is fraud. 

And therefore, Christianly, the priest must be stopped — in the sense 
in which one speaks of stopping a thief. And as people cry, "Hip, ho!" 
after a Jew, so, until no priest is any more to be seen, they must cry, 
"Stop thief! Stop him, he is stealing what belongs to the glorious ones!" 
What they deserved by their noble disinterestedness, and what they did 
not get, being rewarded by unthankfulness, persecuted and put to death, 
that the priest steals by appropriating their lives, by describing their 


sufferings, proving the truth of Christianity by the willingness of these 
glorious ones to suffer for it. Thus it is the priest robs the glorious ones; 
and then he deceives the simpleminded human multitude, which has 
not the ability to see through the priest's traffic and perceive that he 
proves the truth of Christianity and at the same time disproves it. 

What wonder then that Christianity simply does not exist, that the 
notion of "Christendom" is galimatias, when those who are Christians 
are such in reliance upon the priest's proof, assume that Christianity is 
truth in reliance upon the priest's proof: that something is truth because 
one is willing enough to make profit out of it, or perhaps even (by 
a greater refinement) to get the extra profit of protesting that he is 
willing to suffer. To assume the truth of Christianity in reliance upon 
this proof is just as nonsensical as to regard oneself as an opulent man 
because much money passes through one's hands which is not one's 
own, or because one possesses a lot of paper money issued by a bank 
which is insolvent. 


No. 10 


i. What I call optical illusion. 

2. "How can ye believe who receive honor from one 

another?" John 5:44. 

3. What the echo answers. 

4. That the crime of Christendom is comparable to 

that of wishing to obtain stealthily an inherit- 

ance to which one is not entitled. 

5. When is "the Instant"? 

6. My task. 

7. Little observations. 

Note: The circumstance that at the foot of the title page there 

is no 

indication of the date, the authorship, the publisher, or the printer, 

is due 

to the fact that this last number of the Instant was not issued in 


lifetime. It was found upon his desk, complete in every other detail, 


he died. It was finished therefore before he was carried to the hospital on 

October 2, 1855. It is interesting to note that the dates attached 

to the 

several articles are far anterior to this. 

From the Journal 


As an individual, quite literally as an individual, to relate oneself to 
God personally is the formula for being a Christian. ... If once this 
occurs, then it is an event incomparably more important than a European 
war and a war which involves all the corners of the earth, it is a cata- 
strophic event which moves the universe to its profoundest depths. ... He 
whose life does not present relative catastrophes of this sort has never, not 
even in the remotest approximation, had recourse as an individual to God 
— that is just as impossible as to touch an electrical machine without 
receiving a shock. 

My Kierkegaard, p. 525 

What I call optical illusion 

[Aug. 25. | 

This consists in what looks as if it were serving a higher interest, 
the infinite, the idea, God; but upon closer inspection proves to 
be serving the finite, low things, profit. And it was this Bishop Mynster 
practiced with rare virtuosity. 

As an example let me recall something which cannot by this time 
be quite forgotten, an incident which illustrates what I mean, and one 
in which the two bishops, the one who is deceased and the one now 
living, to wit, Mynster and Martensen, are the dramatis personae. 

When Martensen had been a professor for several years, 67 there began 
to be talk in Copenhagen about the longing Professor Martensen felt 
to preach the Word to the people, in addition to his activity in the Uni- 

Very pretty! Martensen is Professor, has, humanly speaking, made 
a success — well then, this longing to preach the Word also to the people, 
is something he would keep pure, remote from every qualification by 
the finite, by temporal rewards and the like; for in him this is a really 
religious longing. And in fact the thing is easily arranged: if he feels 
this longing, he has only to beg one of the priests of the city to grant 
him his pulpit. Every priest would do it with pleasure. 

If Martensen had done this, as sure as my name is S0ren Kierkegaard 
it would not have found favor in the eyes of Bishop Mynster. With his 
delicate nose he would at once have scented out: "A man who has a 
longing in this sense is not of my crew; and to me as a Church ruler 
this sort of longing is heartily repugnant. How far such a longing may 
lead a man, it is impossible to reckon." Mynster was like that; no one 
can know it better than I who know it from the experience that Bishop 
Mynster undoubtedly accounted it a great act of grace he showed me 
(his enemies were inclined to understand it as fear) by even so much as 
tolerating me, not to say (as something quite out of the usual!) show- 
ing a bit of liking for me. For my whole nature was repugnant to him 
in the highest degree; it was not in the least declined according to the 
Christian paradigm he virtually acknowledged on Mondays, the para- 
digm of perfected Christianity, according to which every striving after 
the infinite is measurable by finite advantage and reward, which a 
domineering man does well in recognizing as the only paradigm, for 
what is declined in accordance with that is easy, all-too-easy to manage 
and subdue. 

276 THE INSTANT, NO. 10 

But back to Professor Martensen. What if this longing might be satis- 
fied by becoming...Court Preacher? That's another thing! That is four 
hundred Danish dollars for twelve sermons, and thereto also a prospect 
of the bishop's chair made more probable, which otherwise would be 
very doubtful. In this position moreover there can no longer be any 
question of gathering a congregation about him, as he might have done 
even as a professor by selecting one definite church, and (what would 
be infinitely easy to attain) if he were to occupy the pulpit every sixth 

So then: Court Preacher, four hundred dollars for twelve sermons, 
the possibility of the bishop's chair. Now that was to Bishop Mynster's 
taste, now he could in every way understand and approve and sym- 
pathize with this longing, could find it a pretty longing Martensen feels 
to preach the Word to the people. With a tranquil mind the domineering 
Church ruler played that evening his game of ombre and appeared to 
be the soul of cheerfulness; for from a sort of longing like this of 
Martensen one has no reason to fear any disturbing movement, on the 
contrary it is precisely the right thing for quenching the Spirit. 

So then, in the text: a religious longing — and the note reads: Court 
Preacher, four hundred dollars, prospect of the bishop's chair. However, 
the good-natured populace notices nothing, is deeply touched by this 
religious longing: "How fine it is that Martensen feels such a religious 
longing; what confidence one must have in a man who feels such a 
deep longing to preach the Word." This is optical illusion. 

And to optical illusion the whole of Bishop Mynster's Church rule 
was directed; his virtuosity in ambiguity had become his second nature. 
For a long series of years, with a virtuosity worthy of admiration, he 
led (Christianly speaking) his generation by the nose, a generation 
which then out of gratitude desired to erect a monument to him, pre- 
sumably in the capacity to which Martensen had promoted a 
witness to the truth, one of the genuine witnesses, a link in the holy 
chain — Martensen, who knows as well as I do that Bishop Mynster's 
secret was that of the Epicureans, of the Hedonists, of the self-indulgent : 
apres nous le deluge. Yea, that he knows as well as I. If he should wish 
to deny it, I shall come to the aid of his memory. 

"How can ye believe who receive honor from one 
another?" John 5:44 

[July 15, '55.] 

This again is a death-sentence to all official Christianity. 

This prodigious castle in the air: Christian states, kingdoms, lands; 
this playing with millions of Christians who reciprocally recognize one 
another in their mediocrity, yet are all of them believers — this whole 
thing rests upon a foundation which, according to Christ's own word, 
makes it impossible to believe. 

The Christianity of the New Testament is to love God in opposition 
to men, to suffer at the hands of men for one's faith, for the sake of the 
doctrine to suffer at the hands of men. Only that is to believe: to re- 
ceive honor from men makes it impossible to believe. 

As I say, Christianity simply does not exist. The sort of passion re- 
quired in order that in the most complete separation, in a relation of 
opposition to men, one may deal only with God (only this Christ means 
by believing; and therefore in contrast to receiving honor from men, 
verse 41, or receiving honor from one another, He speaks of seeking 
the honor which cometh from the only God, verse 44) — that sort of 
passion is now no more met with. The sort of men who now live can- 
not stand anything so strong as the Christianity of the New Testament 
(they would die of it or lose their minds), just in the same sense that 
children cannot stand strong drink, for which reason we prepare for 
them a little lemonade — and official Christianity is lemonade-twaddle 
for the sort of beings that now are called men, it is the strongest thing 
they can stand, and this twaddle then in their language they call "Chris- 
tianity," just as the children call their lemonade "wine." 

In "Christendom" then, Christianity, the thing of being a Christian, 
follows the paradigm : "This or that man is a splendid man, a true man 
of faith, he ought to have a chivalric order" — "Ah, that is too little for 
such an eminent man of faith, he ought to have the title of commander," 
etc., etc. And the activity so rich in blessing of the Knight, the Com- 
mander, the Privy Counselor, etc., is based upon the New Testament, 
in which we read, "How can ye believe who receive honor from one 
another?" That is to say, from generation to generation, from century 
to century, "Christendom" performs the trick of declining mensa like 
domus. 08 

Therefore rather than take part in official Christianity with the thou- 
sandth part of my little-finger nail, I would rather engage in the follow- 
ing display of seriousness. A flag is purchased at a hardware store, it 

278 THE INSTANT, NO. 10 

is unfurled, with great reverence I approach it, lift up three fingers and 
swear fidelity to the flag. Thereupon, rigged out in a cocked hat, a 
cartridge-belt and sword (all from the hardware store), I mount a 
hobbyhorse, proposing in union with others to make an attack upon 
the enemy, with contempt for the mortal danger into which I am evi- 
dently casting myself, with the seriousness of one who knows what it 
signifies to have sworn fidelity to the flag. Honestly, I have no disposi- 
tion to engage in that sort of seriousness; but, if bad came to worse, I 
should infinitely prefer this to taking part in official Christianity, in the 
Sunday worship, the seriousness of the sworn teachers. After all, by 
the former one only makes a fool of oneself, by the latter one makes 
a fool of God. 

What the echo answers 

[July 9.] 

Folios and folios have been written to show again and again how one 
is to recognize what true Christianity is. 

This can be done in a far simpler way. 

Nature is...acoustic. Only heed what the echo answers, and thou shalt 
know at once what is what. 

So when in this world one preaches Christianity in such a way that 
the echo answers: "Glorious, profound, serious-minded Christian, thou 
shouldst be exalted to princely rank," etc., know then that this signifies 
his preaching of Christianity is, Christianly, a base lie. It is not absolutely 
certain that he who walks with fetters on his legs is a criminal, for there 
are instances when the civil magistrate has condemned an innocent 
man; but it is eternally certain that he who — by preaching Christian- 
ity! — wins all things earthly is a liar, a deceiver, who at one point or 
another has falsified the doctrine, which by God has been so designed, 
in such a militant relation to this world, that it is eternally impossible 
to preach what Christianity is in truth without having to suffer in this 
world, to be repudiated, hated, cursed. 

When one preaches Christianity in such a way that the echo answers, 
"He is mad," know then that this signifies that there are considerable 
elements of truth in his preaching, without its being, however, the 
Christianity of the New Testament. He may have hit the mark; but 
presumably he does not press hard enough, either by his oral preaching 
or by the preaching of his life, so that, Christianly speaking, he glides 


over too easily, his preaching after all is not the Christianity of the 
New Testament. 

But when one preaches Christianity in such a way that the echo an- 
swers, "Away with that man from the earth, he does not deserve to 
live," know then that this is the Christianity of the New Testament. 
Without change since the time of our Lord Jesus Christ, capital punish- 
ment is the penalty for preaching Christianity as it truly is: hating one- 
self to love God; hating oneself to hate everything in which one's life 
consists, everything to which one clings, for the sake of which one 
selfishly would desire to have God's aid to get it, or to console one that 
one did not get it, console one for the loss of it — without any change 
capital punishment is the penalty for preaching this in character. Preach- 
ing this in character; for if the preacher (doing what our age regards 
as the far greater thing) plays at being objective, so that his life expresses 
precisely the opposite of this, then we get forms of the interesting, and 
the interesting never arouses persecution; on the contrary, all charac- 
terlessness is pleasing to this world. 

But the merit of "Christendom" is, that by the aid of the doctrine that 
Christianity is perfectible it has transformed Christianity into world- 
liness. This was the first lie: to transform Christianity into worldliness. 
The second lie then is: that the world has now become tolerant, has 
made progress, for the fact that persecution no longer takes place — the 
fact is that there is nothing to persecute. 

Oh, yes, Christianity is perfectible! and it is steadily going forward! 
Christianity came into the world and found it lost in earthly desire and 
endeavor. Christianity then taught...renunciation. But, said "Christen- 
dom," Christianity is perfectible; we cannot stop here, renunciation is a 
moment of transition, we must go further, must go on...Hurrah for 
profit! What a refinement! Paganism was worldliness prior to renuncia- 
tion; the worldliness of Christendom claims to be higher than renun- 
ciation, which it regards as one-sidedness. 

That the crime of Christendom is comparable to that 
of wishing to obtain stealthily an inheritance 

to which one is not entitled 

[Aug. 24.] 

A man dies and leaves his whole fortune to an heir — but there is a 
condition, something which is required of the heir; and this the heir 

280 THE INSTANT, NO. 10 

does not like. What then does he do? He takes possession of the prop- 
erty bequeathed to him (for he is indeed the heir, says he) and says 
good -day to the obligation. 

This, as everybody knows, is dishonesty ; it is a lie, that without more 
ado he is heir to the whole fortune; he is heir only upon the condition 
of assuming the obligation, otherwise he is no more heir than any other 
man whatsoever. 

So it is with "Christendom." If you will, it is devised to mankind by 
the Testament of the Saviour of the world; but in the case of Chris- 
tianity the situation is this: the gift and the obligation correspond to 
one another in an exact proportion. In the same degree that Christianity 
is a gift it is also an obligation. 

The knavish trick of "Christendom" is to take the gift and say good- 
day to the obligation, to want to be heir to the gift, but without assum- 
ing the obligation, to want to make it appear that mankind is indeed 
the heir, whereas the truth is that only by performing the obligation 
is mankind, or rather (for precisely because it is an obligation, such 
an abstraction as mankind can only in an extremely figurative sense be 
called the heir) I would say that every single individual of mankind 
is the heir. 

However, hypocritical as everything is with "Christendom," they 
have made it appear as if Christendom too did maintain that Christian- 
ity is an obligation — one has to be baptized. Ah! That is making con- 
foundedly short work of obligation! A drop of water on the head of 
an infant, in the name of the Trinity — that is obligation! 

No, the obligation is: the imitation of Jesus Christ. 

However, if this has to be included, if the gift and the obligation are 
to be in an equal proportion to one another, then "mankind" declines 
Christianity with thanks, then there is nothing for it but to resort to 
falsification...and so you have "Christendom," the crime of which is: 
wishing to obtain underhand an inheritance to which it is not entitled. 

When is "the Instant"? 

[May 29, '55.] 

The Instant is when the man is there, the right man, the man of the 

This is a secret which eternally will remain hidden from all worldly 
shrewdness, from everything which is only to a certain degree. 



Worldly shrewdness stares and stares at events, at circumstances, it 
reckons and reckons, thinking that it might be able to distill the Instant 
out of the circumstances, and so become itself a power by the aid of 
the Instant, this breaking through of the eternal, hoping that itself 
might be rejuvenated, as it so greatly needs to be, by means of the new. 

But in vain. Shrewdness does not succeed and never will to all eternity 
succeed by means of this surrogate — any more than all the arts of cos- 
metics succeed in producing natural beauty. 

No, only when the man is there, and when he ventures as one must 
venture (which is precisely what worldly shrewdness and mediocrity 
want to avoid), then is the Instant — and the circumstances then obey 
the man of the Instant. In case nothing is brought into play but worldly 
shrewdness and mediocrity, the Instant never comes. Things may go 
on for hundreds of thousands and millions of years constantly the 
same — it looks perhaps as if it might now soon come; but so long as 
there is only worldly shrewdness and mediocrity, etc., the Instant 
comes not, no more than does an unfruitful man beget children. 

But when the right man comes, yea, then the Instant is there. For 
the Instant is precisely that which does not lie in the circumstances, 
it is the new thing, the woof of eternity — but that same second it masters 
the circumstances to such a degree that (adroitly calculated to fool 
worldly shrewdness and mediocrity) it looks as if the Instant proceeded 
from the circumstances. 

There is nothing worldly shrewdness so broods over and so hankers 
after as the Instant. What would it not give to be able to calculate 
rightly! Yet no one is more surely excluded from ever grasping the 
Instant than worldly shrewdness. For the Instant is heaven's gift to — 
a pagan would say, to the fortunate and the enterprising, but a Chris- 
tian says, to the believer. Yea, this thing which by worldly shrewdness 
is so deeply despised, or at the most dressed up with borrowed phrases 
of Sunday solemnity, this thing of believing, that and that only is re- 
lated as possibility to the Instant. Worldly shrewdness is eternally ex- 
cluded, despised and abhorred, as things are in heaven, more than all 
vices and crimes, because in its nature it of all things most belongs to 
this wretched world, and most of all is remote from having anything 
to do with heaven and the eternal. 

My task 

[Sept. i, '55.] 

"I do not call myself a Christian, do not say myself that I am a Chris- 
tian." It is this I must constantly reiterate, and which everyone who 
would understand my quite peculiar task must train himself to be able 
to understand. 

Yes, I know it well enough, it sounds almost like a sort of madness, 
in this Christian world where all and everybody is Christian, where to 
be a Christian is something therefore which everyone is as a matter 
of course — that there, in this Christian world, one says of oneself, "I do 
not call myself a Christian," and especially one whom Christianity con- 
cerns to the degree that it concerns me. 

But it cannot be otherwise; in the world's twaddle the truer view 
must always seem like a sort of madness. And that it is a world of 
twaddle in which we live, that incidentally it is precisely by reason of 
this twaddle that everybody is a Christian in a sense, is certain enough. 

Nevertheless I neither can alter my statement nor do I dare to — 
otherwise there would come about also perhaps another alteration, that 
the Power, it is an omnipotent Power, which in a singular way makes 
use of my impotence, might take its hand off me and let me sail on 
my own sea. No, I am neither willing to alter my statement, nor do I 
dare to; I cannot be of service to the legions of knavish tradesmen, I 
mean the priests, who by falsifying the definition of Christianity for 
the sake of business profits have acquired millions and millions of Chris- 
tians: I am not a Christian — and unfortunately I am able to make it 
evident that the others are not either, yea, even less than I. For they 
imagine that they are Christians, or they claim it mendaciously, or 
(like the priests) they make others believe it, so that thereby the priests' 
business becomes flourishing. 

The point of view which I have to indicate again and again is of 
such a singular sort that in the eighteen hundred years of "Christen- 
dom" I have nothing to hold on to, nothing that is analogous, nothing 
that corresponds to it. So also in this respect, with regard to the eight- 
een hundred years, I stand literally alone.* 

* Note. Inasmuch as I have made a critical comment 69 upon "the Apostle," the fol- 
lowing is to be noted. (1). I am entirely within my rights, for the Apostle is only a man. 
And my task requires that it must be followed out to the extreme. If in the teaching of the 
Apostle there is found even in the least degree anything that can be related to what in 
the course of the centuries has become the sophistic which consumes all true Christianity, 
I must raise an outcry, lest the Sophists at once appeal to the Aposde. (2). It is of great 
importance, especially for Protestantism, to straighten out the prodigious confusion Luther 

MY TASK 283 

The only analogy I have before me is Socrates. My task is a Socratic 
task, to revise the definition of what it is to be a Christian. For my part 
I do not call myself a "Christian" (thus keeping the ideal free), but I 
am able to make it evident that the others are that still less than I. 

Thou noble simpleton of olden times, thou, the only man I admir- 
ingly recognize as teacher; there is but little concerning thee that has 
been preserved, thou amongst men the only true martyr to intellectual- 
ity, just as great qua character as qua thinker; but this little, how in- 
finitely much it is! How I long, afar from these battalions of thinkers 
which "Christendom" puts into the field under the name of Christian 
thinkers (for after all, apart from them, there have in the course of 
the centuries lived in "Christendom" several quite individual teachers 
of real significance) — how I long, if only for half an hour, to be able 
to talk with thee! 

It is in an abyss of sophistry Christianity is lying — far, far worse than 
when the Sophists flourished in Greece. These legions of priests and 
Christian docents are all Sophists, living (as was said of the Sophists 
of old) 70 by making those who understand nothing believe something, 
then treating this human-numerical factor as the criterion of what 
truth, what Christianity is. 

But I do not call myself a "Christian." That this is highly embarrass- 
ing to the Sophists, I understand very well, I understand very well that 
they would much prefer that with kettledrums and trumpets I should 
proclaim myself the only true Christian, I understand very well too that 
they seek, untruly, to represent my course of action in this way. But 
one does not dupe rhe! In a certain sense I am very easily duped; I 
have been duped in almost every relationship into which I have en- 
tered — but then that was because I myself willed it. When I do not will 
it, there is in my generation no one who dupes me — a consummate 
detective talent such as I. 

So then they do not dupe me: I do not call myself a "Christian." 
In a certain sense then it seems easy enough to get rid of me; for in 
fact the others are all of them men of a very different kidney, they are 
all true Christians. Yes, yes, so it seems; but it is not so. For just because 

has brought about by inverting the relationship, and in effect criticizing Christ by Paul, 
the Master by the disciple. I on the other hand have not criticized the Apostle, as though 
I were something, I who am not even a Christian. What I have done is to hold up 
Christ's preaching alongside of the preaching of the Apostle. (3). One thing it is to be 
able intellectually to make a true observation, it is something else to want to belittle, 
to weaken, the Apostle, from which certainly I am as remote as anybody. 

284 THE INSTANT, NO. 10 

I do not call myself a Christian it is impossible to get rid of me, pos- 
sessing as I do the confounded quality of being able, precisely by the 
aid of not calling myself a "Christian," to make it evident that the oth- 
ers are still less Christians. 

O Socrates, if with kettledrums and trumpets thou hadst proclaimed 
thyself the most knowing man, the Sophists would soon have had the 
better of thee. No, thou wast the ignorant man; but thou didst possess 
at the same time the confounded quality of being able, precisely by the 
aid of the fact that thou thyself wast ignorant, to make it evident that 
the others knew still less than thou, did not even know that they were 

But as it befell thee (according to what thou sayest in thy "Defense," 71 
as ironically enough thou hast called the crudest satire upon any genera- 
tion), that thou didst bring down upon thee many enemies by making 
it evident that they were ignorant; and as they imputed to thee the in- 
ference that thou thyself must be what thou wert able to show the oth- 
ers were not, they therefore out of envy conceived a grudge against thee; 
so it has also befallen me. It has exasperated men against me that I 
am able to make it evident that the others are Christians still less than 
I am, who yet am so very diffident about my relation to Christianity 
that I truly see and admit that I am not a Christian. And they would 
impute to me the inference that this affirmation that I am not a Chris- 
tian is only a hidden form of pride, that I surely must be what I am 
able to prove the others are not. But this is a misunderstanding: it is 
entirely true that I am not a Christian; and it is an overhasty conclusion 
that because I can show that the others are not Christians, therefore I 
myself must be one — just as overhasty as it would be to conclude, for 
example, from the fact that a man is a foot higher than another, ergo 
he must be six yards high. 

My task is to revise the definition of a Christian. There is only one 
man living who is competent to furnish a real criticism of my work — 
that is I myself. There was some truth in what was said to me a good 
many years ago by Dean Hoefod-Hansen, as he now is, apropos of the 
intention he had had of writing a review of the Concluding Postscript. 
He said that on reading the review that book contained of the earlier 
literary work, he gave up the thought of writing a review in an instance 
where the author was the only person capable of furnishing a real 
criticism of my work. The only man who occasionally has said a fairly 

MY TASK 285 

true word about my significance is Professor R. Nielsen; but it is true 
perception he got from private conversation with me. 

When now such competent judges as, for example, Messrs. Israel 
Levine, 72 Davidsen, Siesby, or such unbefuddled thinkers as Grime, or 
such frank and open characters as the anonymous writers and the like, 
before so illegitimate a tribunal also as the public, pass judgment upon 
a work so singular, it naturally will come to — well, just what it has come 
to, a thing which pains me for the sake of this little nation, which by 
such a sight is made ridiculous qua nation. 

But even if one man or another somewhat more competent under- 
takes to say something about my taste, it comes to nothing more than 
that after a fleeting glance at my situation the author finds in a trice 
some earlier instance or another which corresponds to it, as he declares. 

In that way it comes to nothing just the same. That upon which a 
man with my leisure, my diligence, my talents, my culture (for which 
Bishop Mynster in fact has given me a certificate in print 73 ) has spent 
not merely fourteen years but essentially his whole life — that then some 
priest or another, at the most a professor, should not need more than 
a fleeting glance in order to be able to appraise it, is of course a piece 
of foolishness. And that what is singular to such a degree that at once 
it was branded, "The individual — I am not a Christian," a thing which 
quite certainly has not occurred in the eighteen hundred years of Chris- 
tendom, where everything is branded, "Congregation, society — I am a 
true Christian" — that then some priest or another, at the most a pro- 
fessor, should at once find an analogy to it, is also a piece of foolishness. 
Upon more careful inspection one would find that it is precisely an 
impossibility. But this one does not think worth while; one prefers a 
fleeting glance at my situation, and then an equally fleeting glance at 
the earlier one, and with that one has immediately analogies enough 
for the public is well able to understand. 

Nevertheless it is as I say: in the eighteen hundred years of "Christen- 
dom" there is absolutely nothing corresponding to my task, nothing 
analogous to it; it is the first time in "Christendom." 

That I know, and I know too what it has cost, what I have suffered, 
which can be expressed however in a single word: I was never like 
others. Oh, in the days of youth it is of all torments the most frightful, 
the most intense, not to be like others, never to live a single day with- 
out being painfully reminded that one is not like others, never to be 
able to run with the herd, which is the delight and the joy of youth, 
never to be able to give oneself out expansively, always, so soon as one 

286 THE INSTANT, NO. 10 

would make the venture, to be reminded of the fetters, the isolating 
peculiarity which, isolatingly to the border of despair, separates one 
from everything which is called human life and merriment and joy. 
True, one can by a frightful effort strive to hide what at that age one 
understands as one's dishonor, that one is not like the others; to a cer- 
tain degree this may succeed, but all the same the agony is still in the 
heart, and after all it succeeds only to a certain degree, so that a single 
incautious movement may revenge itself frightfully. 

With the years, it is true, this pain diminishes more and more; for 
as more and more one becomes spirit, it causes no pain that one is not 
like others. Spirit precisely is this : not to be like others. 

And so at last there comes the instant when the Power which once 
did thus — yea, so it seems sometimes — ill-treat one, transfigures itself 
and says, "Hast thou anything to complain of? Does it seem to thee that 
in comparison with what is done for other men I have been partial 
and unjust? Though — out of love — I have embittered for thee thy 
childhood and both thine earlier and later youth, does it seem to thee 
that I have duped thee by what thou didst get instead?" And to this 
there can only remain the answer, "No, no, Thou infinite Love" — 
though nevertheless the human crowd doubtless would emphatically 
decline with thanks to be what I have become in such an agonizing 

For by such torture as mine a man is trained to endure to be a sac- 
rifice; and the infinite grace which was shown and is shown to me is 
that I should be selected to be a sacrifice, selected to this end, and then 
one thing more, that I should be developed under the combined in- 
fluence of omnipotence and love to be able to hold fast the truth that 
this is the highest degree of grace the God of love can show towards 
anyone, and therefore shows only to His loved ones. 

My dear reader, thou dost see that this does not promptly lead to 
profit. That will be the case only after my death, when the sworn teach- 
ers or tradesmen will appropriate my life too for salting down in the 
brine tubs. 

Christianity is situated so high that what it understands by grace is 
what the profane {Procul, o procul este profani™) would of all things 
most heartily decline with thanks. False priests, or priests pure and 
simple, manage to transform grace into indulgence. According to them, 
grace consists in the fact that man, quite bluntly, has profit out of God, 
and the priests have profit out of men whom they make to believe this, 
inviting them with Christ's own words, "Come hither all" — the true 

MY TASK 287 

significance of which words is, that the invitation is undeniably for all, 
but that this, when it comes to the pinch and it has to be determined 
to what it is Christ invites men (by imitation to become a sacrifice), 
and when this is not turned into something agreeable to all, then it will 
result, as in the age of Christ, that all most heartily decline with thanks, 
and that only quite exceptionally a single individual follows the invita- 
tion, and of these individuals in turn only a very singular individual 
follows the invitation in such a way that he holds fast to the truth that 
this is an infinite, an indescribable grace which is shown be 
sacrificed. An indescribable grace; for it is the only way in which God 
can love a man and be loved by a man; but indeed it is an infinite grace 
that God wills to do this and wills to permit it. So a fig for the fact 
that, for prudential reasons, in order to put at a distance every profane 
consideration, an intermediate qualification is introduced, that of being 
sacrificed. And then too it would be almost loathsome, stifling, nauseat- 
ing, suffocating, if this thing of being loved by God and loving Him 
were to be stupidly, bestially, encumbered by the thought that one had 
profit out of it. 

Thou plain man! The Christianity of the New Testament is infinitely 
high; but observe that it is not high in such a sense that it has to do 
with the difference between man and man with respect to intellectual 
capacity, etc. No, it is for all. Everyone, absolutely everyone, if he ab- 
solutely wills it, if he will absolutely hate himself, will absolutely put 
up with everything, suffer everything (and this every man can if he 
will) — then is this infinite height attainable to him. 

Thou plain man! I have not separated my life from thine; thou 
knowest it, I have lived in the street, am known to all; moreover I have 
not attained to any importance, do not belong to any class egoism, so 
if I belong anywhere, I must belong to thee, thou plain man, thou who 
once (when one profiting by thy money pretended to wish thee well 75 ), 
thou who once wast too willing to find me and my existence ludicrous, 
thou who least of all hast reason to be impatient or ungrateful for the 
fact that I am of your company, for which the superior people rather 
have reason, seeing that I have never definitely united with. them but 
merely maintained a looser relationship. 

Thou plain man! I do not conceal from thee the fact that, according 
to my notion, the thing of being a Christian is infinitely high, that at 
no time are there more than a few who attain it, as Christ's own life 

288 THE INSTANT, NO. 10 

attests, if one considers the generation in which He lived, and as also His 
preaching indicates, if one takes it literally. Yet nevertheless it is pos- 
sible for all. But one thing I adjure thee, for the sake of God in heaven 
and all that is holy, shun the priests, shun them, those abominable men 
whose livelihood it is to prevent thee from so much as becoming aware 
of what Christianity is, and who thereby would transform thee, be- 
fuddled by galimatias and optical illusion, into what they understand 
by a true Christian, a paid member of the State Church, or the National 
Church, 76 or whatever they prefer to call it. Shun them. But take heed 
to pay them willingly and promptly what money they should have. 
With those whom one despises, one on no account should have money 
differences, lest it might perhaps be said that it was to get out of pay- 
ing them one avoided them. No, pay them double, in order that thy 
disagreement with them may be thoroughly clear: that what concerns 
them does not concern thee at all, namely, money; and on the contrary, 
that what does not concern them concerns thee infinitely, namely, Chris- 

Little observations 

[Aug. 2.] 

i. Little observations. 

Take a perfectly arbitrary example, in order the better to see the truth. 

Let us assume that God's will was that we men must not go out to 
the Deer Park. 77 

This of course "man" could not put up with. What then would be 
the upshot? The upshot would be that the "priest" would make out 
that if, for example, one blessed the four-seated Holstein carriage and 
made the sign of the cross over the horses, then taking a drive to the 
Deer Park would be well pleasing to God. 

The consequence therefore would be that people would go out to the 
Deer Park just as much as they do now, without any change, except that 
it had become dearer, cost perhaps five dollars for persons of rank, five 
dollars for the priests, and four cents for poor people. But then the ex- 
cursion to the Deer Park would also have the enchantment of being 
at the same time...divine worship. 

Perhaps the priests would have hit upon the thought of taking in 
hand themselves the business of hiring out horses and carriages, so that 
if it were to be thoroughly pleasing to God that one went out to the 
Deer Park, the carriage must be hired from the priests, perhaps a priest 


would go along, perhaps even (so that it might be singularly well pleas- 
ing to God) a priest would be the coachman, perhaps even (so that it 
might be well pleasing to God in the highest degree) a bishop would 
be the coachman. But to attain this, the absolute maximum of well- 
pleasingness to God, would be so costly that divine worship of this sort 
could only be enjoyed by those who, according to perfected Christianity 
(for the New Testament, it is well known, has another view) are also 
the only ones who have the means to please God perfectly...the mil- 

2. The priests — the actors. 

The actor is an honest man who says plainly, "I am an actor." 

One never gets a priest to say that, at any price. 

No, the "priest" thinks he is the very opposite of an actor. Entirely 
without prejudice (because he knows that it does not apply to him) 
he will raise and answer the question whether an actor may be buried 
in Christian ground. It never occurs to him (a masterpiece of scenic 
art, if it is not stupidity) that he is cointerested in the decision of this 
question, yes, that even if it is decided in favor of the actor, it neverthe- 
less might be doubtful whether it is justifiable for the priest to be buried 
in Christian ground. 

3. The priest as a screen. 

As in the business world, one has a partner, something close to a 
fictitious entity, 78 a mere formality — but when there is a question of 
acting a bit disinterestedly, a bit leniently, not being too egoistic, yea, 
then the word is: "My good man, I would serve you with pleasure, I 
am soft-hearted; but my partner — there can be no thought of moving 
him." The whole thing of course is a knavish trick, calculated for the 
sake of living as hard-heartedly, as commercially minded as possible, 
and yet at the same time assuming the appearance of being something 
different...if only one did not have that partner. 

As in everyday life, one has a wife — and when there comes an occasion 
when it would be seemly for one to act a bit courageously, a bit stout- 
heartedly, one says then, "Yes, my friend, be assured that for my part 
I have my heart in the right place; but my wife — it doesn't help me a 
bit to think of such a thing." Of course the whole thing is a knavish 
trick, whereby one would manage at one and the same time to be a 
coward and enjoy the advantage of it in life, and also to be a stout- 
hearted fellow...if only one were not so unlucky as to have that wife. 

So the existence of the "priest" has the significance of making society 


feel secure in its hypocrisy. "We have no responsibility, we are privates, 
we abide by the priest, who has taken an oath." Or, "We dare not 
criticize the priest, we abide by what he says, he is a man of God who 
has taken an oath upon the New Testament." Or, "We should be will- 
ing enough to renounce everything, if that is required, but whether that 
is required we dare not assume to decide, we are only laymen, the 
priest is the authority, we do not dare to withdraw, he says that it is 
an exaggeration," etc. 

All the shrewdness of "man" seeks one thing : to be able to live with- 
out responsibility. The priest's significance for society ought to be to do 
everything to make every man eternally responsible for every hour he 
lives, even for the least thing he undertakes, for this is Christianity. 
But his significance for society is: to make hypocrisy feel secure, while 
society shoves responsibility away from itself upon the priest. 

4. Paganism — the Christianity of "Christendom." 

The difference is that between the dram a drinking man drinks as 
a matter of course, and the dram which a man drinks as a reward 
for his temperance. The latter is infinitely worse than the former, for 
it is a refinement; the former is honest intemperance, the latter is re- 
fined intemperance, being at the same time temperance. 

5. A frightful situation. 

The situation is not this, that for every man who truly has willed 
the truth (the consequence of which would be that he became a sac- 
rifice) there are one hundred thousand sensual, worldly-minded, medi- 
ocre men. No, the situation is this: for every one man who truly has 
willed the truth there are — shudder! — one thousand priests who, with 
their families, live by preventing the sensual, the light-minded, the 
worldly-minded men, the prodigious multitude of the mediocre, from 
getting a truer impression of that one who truly would will the truth. 

6. Heartiness — heartlessness. 

People who themselves have their heart in the throat, upon the lips, 
in the trousers, in short, everywhere except in the right place, quite 
naturally blame for heartlessness precisely that man who has his heart 
in the right place. 

That is to say, after they have vainly looked for his heart in every 
place they know of, they are convinced that he has no heart; for he 
has it in the right place, and it does not occur to them to look there. 


7. The refined meanness 

is in a certain sense not seen in this world: precisely that is its crowning 
glory, that it looks like exactly the opposite. 

What one sees in this world, and sees branded as odious and mean, 
may be frightful enough, but it is a small thing in comparison with the 
refined sort, which, when refined, counts for exactly the opposite of 
meanness. We speak of the "heaven-crying" sin; but the most "heaven- 
crying" sin is that which — refined — knows how to give itself the appear- 
ance of holiness, so that least of all sins can it be said to cry to heaven, 
which nevertheless it does, precisely because with the soundlessness of 
hypocrisy it is more "heaven-crying" than the so-called "heaven-crying" 

Let me devise an example. 

In a town there lives a stranger; he possesses only one thing, but that 
is a bank note for a very large amount. However, no one in the town 
recognizes this note, so that for them it is = 0, and of course no one 
will give him anything for it. 

Then a man, a stranger it may be, who recognizes the value of the 
note very well, comes to him and says, "I am your friend, as is becoming 
in a friend I will help you out of your embarrassment, I offer you" — 
and then he offers him the half of its value. This, you see, is refined! 
It is calculated to look like friendship and devotion, which must be ad- 
mired and extolled by the inhabitants of that town, and at the same 
time it is cheating him out of 50 per cent. But that is not seen; the in- 
habitants of that town could in fact not see it, they see on the contrary 
the very unusual magnanimity, etc. 

As it is in a commercial relation, so it is with relation to intellect. 

A man may be so situated in his generation that no one of the 
many has any conception of who he is, of his value, of his significance. 
In this of course there is nothing to be indignant about, that the many 
regard him and all that is his as null and naught. 

Then there comes to him a man who knows his real value and says 
to him, "I am your friend, I wish to bear witness to you" — and there- 
upon he gives him publicly one half the recognition he knows is due 
him. This is refined, it is calculated to count in the eyes of the con- 
temporaries as a rare, rare example of disinterested devotion, a rare 
courage and enthusiasm which does justice to an unappreciated man; 
and yet, by putting himself to the least possible pains, he does the un- 
appreciated man the greatest possible injury, for the fact that he procures 

292 THE INSTANT, NO. 10 

for him a new and still greater difficulty than that of remaining un- 
appreciated, namely, a half appreciation. That is not seen; the contem- 
poraries could not in fact see anything else but the refined man's noble, 
disinterested, courageous enthusiasm. 
[July 7, '55, on the rough draft of Nos. 8-10.] 

8. "It is for the sa\e of the successor." 

After all, perhaps I do the priests injustice. True enough, when one 
sees how stoutly they stand up for their rights, require every shilling 
that is due them, and like the lawyers hardly take a step without being 
paid — then one is tempted to take with a grain of salt their protestations 
that the worldly does not concern them at all. 

But perhaps it is I that am at fault, I who am so impractical that I 
have entirely overlooked something which alters the case entirely. So 
when Bishop Martensen makes application for 600 tons of barley instead 
of 300, 79 it is perhaps I who have overlooked something, namely, that 
it is not by any means because earthly things of this sort concern such 
a holy man, but His Holiness does this for the sake of his successor, 
because it is the duty of His Holiness towards his successor, who then 
in his turn does the same thing.. .for the sake of His Holiness who will 
be his successor. Yes, that's something different. So this is even a noble 
act...for the sake of the successor! 

Now I understand Bishop Martensen, I find his application in har- 
mony with what I know from his own mouth — so it certainly is true — 
into which I do not hesitate to initiate the others, since it conduces to 
his glorification. He said that it was a sense of duty, that and that alone, 
which moved him to be willing to accept the election as Bishop. Truly, 
just such a man as that it was we needed for the episcopal see of See- 
land — that is certain. 

So then it was for the sake of the successor, for that and for that alone, 
out of a sense of duty towards the successor — so that if, for example, 
Bishop Martensen were to encounter this change of affairs, that there 
would not any more be a successor, he would at once withdraw his 
application; or, if it had already been granted, he would at once relin- 
quish the 300 tons — for indeed it was not for his own sake he made 
the application, by no means, it was for the sake of the successor. Or 
if there was a Cultus-Minister who, in consideration of the fact that 
it was simply and solely for the sake of the successor, resolved that the 
600 tons of barley should be granted, but in such a form that the 300 


were regularly put aside for the successor (for this indeed was only 
for the sake of the successor), or that the extra grant (300 tons) should 
commence only with the coming of the successor — then Bishop Marten- 
sen would thank the Cultus-Minister who helped to remove from the 
Bishop every possible suspicion that after all it might perhaps be also, 
perhaps "at the same time," for his own sake, yea, that he might be 
very much delighted if only he were sure that he would get the 600 
tons, whatever happened to the successor. 

9. Convent beer. 

This was one of the points where I was happy — my fond recollec- 
tion! — to be in complete agreement with the late Bishop Mynster. He 
too regarded the Convent performances 80 as thin beer. 

It was therefore with a certain satisfaction that I happened a short 
while ago to see in a book what I had not known before, that thin beer 
is called "convent beer." In case Bishop Mynster was unacquainted 
with that term, he would have been delighted to know it. 

10. The higher wisdom in the consideration that 
there is a predecessor and a successor. 

Everything bad is ascribed to the predecessor: 

that we strive for earthly goods is for the sake of 

the successor. 

In that way, by the help of having a predecessor and a successor, we 
go pleasantly through life, and are at the same time witnesses to the 
truth. God help him who has no predecessor and no successor! For 
him truly life becomes what according to the will of Christianity it 
should be: an examination in which one cannot cheat. 

Articles in the Fatherland, etc. 

1 Bishop Mynster died on Jan. 30, 1854, and was buried eight days later, on the 
Thursday following Prof. Martensen's eulogy, which he pronounced on a Sunday in the 
Casde Church of Christiansborg, where he functioned as Court Preacher. He chose as his 
text Hebrews 13:7 f. and took occasion to say of the late Bishop, "From the man whose 
precious memory fills your hearts, your thought is led to the whole line of witnesses 
to the truth which like a holy chain stretches," etc. 

2 It should be remembered that in his Works as well as in his Journal S. K. had em- 
phasized this concept strongly and defined it sharply. Nothing could have offended him 
more deeply than Martensen's use of the word in this connection, and the fact that he 
deferred publishing his protest for so long a time is evidence of extraordinary self-control. 

3 On April 15, 1854, Martensen was appointed by the Crown to the vacant episcopal 
see. But he attained this appointment with some difficulty, seeing that H. N. Clausen was 
a strong competitor, supported by the National Liberal Party, with which S. K., as he 
says subsequently, was loath to ally himself. 

4 While Mynster was still alive S. K. had written out in full several drafts of a projected 
attack upon him, which now can be read in his Papers, X 6 B 162-170, pp. 255-396. 

5 This was Martensen's reply to S. K., which he published in the Berlins\e Tidende 
(a Copenhagen daily) on Dec. 28, 1854. 

6 In a brochure which Prof. Martensen published in 1850 he said of S. K.'s writings, 
"My acquaintance with this prolix literature is only very slight and fragmentary." 

7 This is told in the Journal, X 3 A 563 f., which may be read in my Kierkegaard, 
pp. 514 f. Cf. Article XX in the Fatherland. 

8 Marriage of Figaro, Danish trans, by Ponte, act iii, scene 10. 

9 The theological candidate W. Hjort, in the Berlinske Tidende for Jan. 6, 1855: "In 
the strictest sense of the word Mynster is not a preacher of repentance but a messenger 
of peace." 

10 Taken not directly from Epicurus but (with some change) from Cicero, De natura 
deorum, 1, 20, 52. 

11 Cf. Journal, EP '54-'55, p. 514. 

12 Prof. Nielsen, writing in the Fatherland (No. 8, 1855) in praise of S. K.'s deed, 
used an unlucky expression when he said, "a case which unfortunately has raised so much 

13 Martensen was consecrated the day after Christmas 1854, and rather truculently 
took as his text Acts 1:8 — "But ye shall receive the power of the Holy Ghost which shall 
come upon you, and ye shall be my witnesses," etc. He repeated the word "witnesses" 
many times. 

14 Quoted from a jingle which every Danish child knew. 

15 This was naturally the claim of men like Martensen who were bent upon inter- 
preting Christianity in a Hegelian sense, and of course S. K. denounces it again and again. 

16 Vigilius Haufniensis in The Concept of Dread, chapter 2, §2. 

17 See Mark 9:47-50. 

18 Cf. the Journal, XI 2 A 54, 55, 130, 133. 

19 The world wishes to be deceived, ergo the priests — a proverbial saying. 

20 Referring to Prof. Nielsen's defense of him which was noticed in Article IV. 

21 To explain once for all S. K.'s satirical references to the claim that one was "en- 
deavoring" to be a Christian, I point to the passage about a North Pole expedition which 
may be read in my Kierkegaard, p. 546. 

22 S. K. was a candidate in theology, and naturally he was several times on the point 



of taking the next step of seeking a cure, which would have led to his ordination as a 

23 The Danish editors quote a good part of the anonymous proposal, which not only 
demanded a complete exposition of New Testament doctrine, but affirmed that it was 
time to stop ringing the fire alarm — to which S. K. responded in the following article. 

24 It was issued about a month later, on May 8, and was announced onMay 16 in 
S. K.'s twentieth article in the Fatherland. 

25 The fact that S. K. was about to issue a magazine entitled the Instant suggests that 
this was for him an important category. How it is related to Greek thought is explained 
in the long footnote at the beginning of chapter III of The Concept of Dread. In the 
Fragments he had already connected it with the "leap," he says in another place that 
"the instant is not an atom of time but of eternity," and in one of the articles in the 
Instant he speaks of it as "the breaking through of eternity." On the other hand, he said 
of the mere "instant of time" that "it is filled with emptiness." This was the decisive 
instant for Christianity. 

26 He quotes a Danish version of Usteri's drinking song, "Freut each des Lebens." 

27 Shakespeare's Henry IV, 1, act iv, scene 2. 

28 Scene 2. Heiberg's figure was 1,400 feet, but S. K.'s favorite expression for an 
immense depth was 70,000 fathoms. 

29 The name of the pseudonym who appeared as the editor of Either/Or. 

30 Block was Dean of the Cathedral at Aarhus. 

31 It was the case of Rabbi A. A. Wolff. That he should be wearing a cross, the insig- 
nium of the Order of Dannebrog, was absurd enough, even if the statutes of the order 
had not required that none but Evangelical Christians be admitted to it. 

32 Referring to Holberg's play, The Eleventh cf June. 

33 The pseudonym to whom was attributed both the Fragments and the Postscript. The 
reference is to the latter. 

34 The Danish editors quote the relevant passages in Dr. Zeuthen's series of articles in 
the Ugesbjrift, which deal only incidentally with S. K. 

35 In the original draft S. K. wrote: "As one says petulantly that where a fool goes 
he takes one with him, so there is One with me." 

36 Another reference to the individuals alluded to in Article III. Cf. note 8 above. 

37 Cf. note 7 above. 

38 Recalling a phrase in the Preface to Training in Christianity. 

39 It is said that the Prime Minister made it known that if S. K. were arrested he would 
at once liberate a man who had shed so much luster upon Denmark. 

40 By Prof. Nielsen in the Fatherland, which is quoted fully enough in a note by the 
Danish editors. 

41 In Don Juan (Kruse's trans.), act ii, scene 8. 

42 Johannes Climacus in the Concluding Postscript, pp. 504 ff. 

43 Lessing's Emilia Galotti, act iv, scene 5. 

44 In Norway, where the Christiania Post published several articles defending S. K. 
and criticizing Bishop Martensen. 

45 S. K.'s polemic in the Fragm€nts and the Postscript against "speculation" was di- 
rected principally at Martensen, though without mentioning his name; and in return 
Martensen, in the Preface to his Dogmatic, but again without mentioning names, spoke 
disparagingly of S. K.'s philosophical works. Cf. the Journal, X 1 A 553 ff. 

46 "The System" always means the Hegelian philosophy, which Martensen was one 
of the first to introduce into Denmark. 

47 Gospel Faith and the Modern Consciousness, a book in which Prof. Nielsen, who, 
hitherto had been close to Martensen, appeared for the first time as an adherent of S. K., 
though without mentioning either man by name. 

48 "On the imagined reconciliation of faith and knowledge, with special reference to 

NOTES 297 

Prof. Martensen's Dogmatic," Copenhagen, 1850. Prof. Stilling mentions Johannes Cli- 
macus only incidentally, but evidently he was deeply influenced by S. K., and (as he re- 
marks in the Preface) he too had long been in friendly relations with Martensen. 

49 Again by Prof. Nielsen, in two books (published in 1849 an d 1850) in which he 
expressly compared Martensen's Christian Dogmatic with S. K.'s works. 

50 Quoted from Training in Christianity, p. 52. Alas, in my translation I said, "not 
ally," when I should have said, "have nothing to do with." 

51 In the above-mentioned article in the Fatherland, urging Martensen to withdraw 
the term "witnesses to the truth," he assumed, perhaps too politely, that the Bishop "had 
already put himself in the position of Christian resignation." 

52 He was forty-six years of age when he was consecrated. 

53 This, it will be remembered, is S. K.'s definition of purity of heart. 

54 The anonymous writer of this letter may have been a pastor, but he said he was 
not a theologian and claimed a right to speak only on the ground that he is a daily 
reader of the Scriptures. He says of S. K., "While the priests see in him almost a per- 
sonal enemy, plain, sensible people call his talk twaddle." 

The Instant, Nos. I to X 

1 Book I, cap. 19, and Book VII, cap. 5. 

2 Frater Taciturnus in the Stages, p. 200. 

3 Oelenschlager's Palmatokf, act v, scene 2. 

4 At that time a special distinction was worn (not only in gala uniform) by officers 
who served as adjutants to the King. 

5 This served at that time to frank a letter. 

6 Recalling the Preface to all the Edifying Discourses. 

7 Referring to the permission given hotel keepers since 1826 to sell beer and brandy 
outside the house. 

8 This is said more effectively in the parable of the cabman, in the Journal. See my 
Kierkegaard, pp. 532 f. 

9 Since this charge is constandy reiterated in the Instant, it is important to know that 
the second part of the oath at that time required of priests before their ordination was 
as fallows (translated from the Latin): "In the second place I promise that I will labor 
with great diligence in order that the heavenly instruction contained in the Prophetic 
and Apostolic books may be faithfully imparted to the hearers." 

10 From Ovid, "A Remedy against Love," where one is advised to "put a stop to it 
at the beginning." 

11 This simple parable, to which S. K. often refers, meant to him that, if anything is 
to be accomplished (if the sewing is not to come undone because there was no knot made 
in the thread), someone has to die for it. Cf. the Journal, XI 2 A 281. 

12 He has in view radical Hegelians, like David Strauss and L. Feuerbach. 

13 This is what Bishop Martensen complained of in his reply. 

14 The mother tongue gradually replaced Latin for examinations during the first half 
of the nineteenth century. 

15 Pedars Paars, 2nd song, verse 48. 

16 This was implied in the anonymous proposal mentioned in Article XIII-. 

17 The proposal for a new hymnal came from the party of Grundtvig, who wanted 
his hymns included, which in fact have become the most popular in Denmark. The Bishop 
was opposed to it, and S. K. was never tired of making fun of it. 

18 An ordinance of 1845. 

19 Cf. the Journal, XI 2 A 50, 300, 303. 

20 The first line of a popular song by S0eborg. 



21 J. L. Heiberg's King Solomon and J0rgen the Hatter, scene 23; "For the ditty lasts 
an eternity." 

22 April Fools, scene 29 — but S. K. was here inexact: it was "Madam" who thought 
it unseemly that Miss Trummeir was shut in a closet with Herr Zierlich's coat. 

23 Holberg, Ulisses von Ithacia, act ii, scene 1 . 

24 Act i, scene 9 (Kruse's trans.). 

25 Quoted from Bishop Martensen's Pastoral Letter of June 6. 

26 As Bishop Martensen promised in his Pastoral Letter. 

27 Acts 2:40. "Three thousand souls in one day." 

28 As suggested by the Fourth Gospel. 

20 You drive out nature with a fork, etc. A familiar proverb derived from Horace's 
Letters, I, 10, 24. 

30 Who wrote an article in the Berlins\e Tidende criticizing Prof. Nielsen's defense of 
S. K. No special reason is evident for calling him a veterinary, but "veterinary science" 
was often mentioned by S. K. by way of reminding "scientists" that not every science 
is sublime. 

31 In the Journal (EP '54-'55, p. 25) S. K. refers scathingly to the fact that the Danish 
law prohibited anyone but a Christian from keeping a whorehouse. 

32 I remark tardily that a velvet facing on the gown was a distinction of bishops and 
deans — also of doctors of theology. 

33 It might have been remarked earlier that, in contrast to the objectivity which was 
(and is) so highly extolled by scientific men and philosophers, S. K. insisted upon 
the necessity of subjectivity in religion and theology, in a sense which is made clear in 
the Postscript. 

34 Cf. Psalm 56:8. In the Journal for 1852 (X 4 A 566. See my Kierkegaard, p. 518) 
S. K. remarks upon the fact that Mynster in one of his Meditations dwells pathetically 
upon the futility of the tears people have shed when listening to him: "whereas they do 
not act accordingly. And with these tears I shall step forth at the Day of Judgment and 
say, I have done my part." "Strangely enough," says S. K., "I had just been thinking 
of gathering up all the tears Mynster has shed upon the pulpit, whereas it has been made 
clear that he does not act accordingly." 

35 In the fifteenth century this story was told of a friar at Naples, who on Good Friday 
had harrowed the congregation by his description of the Lord's Passion, and seeing them 
in tears had tried to comfort them by the reflection that "all this was a long time ago, 
so let us hope it is not true." 

36 Cicero (De divinatione, ii, 24, 51) recalls a saying of Cato the Elder, that he could 
not understand how the haruspes (priests who followed the Etruscan tradition of divin- 
ing the future by inspecting the entrails of slain beasts) could look at one another with- 
out smiling. 

37 This is what he affirmed in criticizing Hans Christian Andersen's book for rep- 
resenting that genius was a delicate thing which must be coddled. 

38 Has in view an article in the Flyve-Post which spoke of Grundtvig as "a man with 
a certain Apostolic authority." Cf. the Journal, EP '54-'55, p. 535. 

39 This promise was cited against S. K. in an article in the Fatherland of April 3, 1855. 

40 Cf. the Journal, EP '54-'55, p. 390. Evidently S. K. was embarrassed by his would- 
be defenders. 

41 The anonymous article, mentioned above, in the Copenhagen Post of April 3, 1854, 
says of S. K.: "Such intolerable pride as he has shown in a series of aphoristic articles 
in the Fatherland one surely has never seen matched in the Danish press." 

42 The motto of Caesar Borgia. Aut/aut is Latin for either/or. 

43 Hamlet, act iv, scene 3. 

44 As there is no evidence that the Apostles were baptized, S. K. uses the general 
term "disciples." 

NOTES 299 

40 The five-dollar bills were blue. 
40 Cf. the Journal, XI 2 A 211. 

47 The Seminary was founded in 1809, with the expectation that the course would 
last a whole year, but by this time it had been shortened to one half. 

48 As everywhere else on the Continent, all official documents bore a stamp equivalent 
in cost to the tax imposed. 

49 Holberg, Den Stundesltpse, act i, scene 2. 

50 This is pretty much what happened to S. K.'s elder brother Peter. The living he 
had applied for and obtained proved not to his liking, and the King, with a reprimand, 
allowed him to withdraw his application. 

51 Like Martensen, who was a good Hegelian. 

52 Horace's Letters, I, 1, 54. 

53 There is hardly any phrase S. K. so often uses with reprobation. He has in mind 
Martensen's boast of "going further" than Hegel, but also further than the naive phase 
of Christianity registered in the New Testament. This hangs together with the claim 
that Christianity is "perfectible." 

S4, A reference to Wessel's Stella, vii. 

55 John 20:19-31, which was the Gospel for the First Sunday after Easter, the day 
which in S. K.'s time was appointed for Confirmation in Copenhagen. 

56 A Latin saying, dwelling upon the comfort of common shipwreck. 

57 By Diogenes Laertius (i, 86) this story is ascribed to Bias. 

58 Carstensen founded in 181 2 the Tivoli, which was (and is) the great place of refec- 
tion and recreation in Copenhagen. At this time he had just returned from a tour in 
America and was much acclaimed by the press. 

59 Collect for the First Sunday after New Year's Day, which takes this phrase from 
I Peter 2:11. 

60 As Mynster in fact did. I refer again to the Journal, or rather to the quotation from 
it in my Kierkegaard, p. 514. 

61 Not the festival of St. Lawrence, which is Aug. 10. S. K. seems to have chosen 
deliberately almost the only day which in the Roman Calendar is dedicated to no saint. 
He also seems to have invented the peculiar celebration of this festival — perhaps in 
ridicule of certain well-known customs, like hot cross buns on Good Friday. 

62 In the Thousand and One Nights. 

63 The reader hardly needs to be told that S. K. had Mynster in mind. 

64 One of Aesop's Fables. 

65 Referring to an article in the first of these journals, on the date of May 30, which 
exclaims, "Poor, wretched S0ren, that thou shouldst come to such an end!" and to the 
letter of May 31, which compares the boy S0ren to the grown man. 

66 See the last Article in the Fatherland. 

67 He became Professor Extraordinarily in 1840, Court Preacher in 1845. 

68 In Latin grammars these were the usual paradigms for two different declensions. 

69 Cf. The Instant, No. V, Article 2; and No. VII, Article 5. S. K. has been charged 
by his adversaries with inconsistency in thus belittling -the Apostle. It was a shrewd 
criticism, and this long note is not an adequate answer to it. For no one had ever ex- 
alted more highly than he the idea of what it was to be an Apostle of Jesus Christ. "1 
always keep," says he, "a separate account for the Apostle." Reproaching Luther for 
discarding the word of the Apostle James, "Faith without works is dead," he exclaimed, 
"and think what a high conception he had of an Apostle!" This could now be retorted 
upon him. In the heat of controversy he had been tempted to sacrifice the Apostle to 
"the witness to the truth." And this points to a fundamental flaw in his contention. But, 
all appearances to the contrary notwithstanding, it never was S. K.'s intention to affirm 
that only martyrs (i.e. witnesses to the truth) can be saved, or that the true Church 
is composed solely of martyrs. The martyrs were held in singular honor because there 

300 NOTES 

were few of them. And it was not the Apostles only who believed that men might be 
saved without being dead sacrifices, or even "living sacrifices." Christ himself, as in 
the case of the rich young man, was comforted by the thought that "with God all 
things are possible." The Apostle was the only objective authority S. K. recognized, his 
only objective link with Catholicism, indeed with the Church as a community of faith. 
This note shows how loath he was to reject this saving link — but also how much he 
was tempted to reject it, though with that he would have been left to unbridled sub- 

70 By Plato in Gorgias, cap. 19; and Aristotle, On the Sophists' Proofs, cap. 1. 

71 Plato's Apology. 

72 Aaron Levin, who for some years was S. K.'s secretary, gained notoriety by pub- 
lishing revelations of S. K.'s private life, which were neither sensational nor reliable. 
S. K. needed a secretary to transcribe his pseudonymous works, for so scrupulous was 
he in preserving his anonymity that he would not send to the printer a manuscript in 
his own handwriting. Davidsen and Siesby were editors of the Flyve-Post, in which S. K. 
was violently attacked. Griine was editor of the Copenhagen Post, and was equally zealous 
in his opposition. He was notorious for his talent for holding two apparently opposite 
points of view at the same time. 

73 In Heiberg's Intelligensblade, Nos. 41-42, he spoke of his "rich culture." 

74 A Virgilian line: "Hence! keep far away, ye uninitiated!" Aeneid, vi, 258. 

75 Aaron Goldschmidt, when he ridiculed him in the Corsair. S. K. was not fortunate 
with his Jewish friends — but it was not them only he thought of when he said, "I have 
been hoaxed in every relationship I entered into." 

78 "National Church" is what Grundtvig preferred to call it. 

77 Dyrehaven, an immense park rather remote from Copenhagen, and the favorite 

78 He seems to have had in mind the relation between Spenlow and Jorkins in David 

79 By Royal Resolution of June 29, 1854, there was accorded to the Bishop of Seeland, 
besides his ordinary income, 600 tons of barley, to be paid to him in money. The Danish 
editors remark that Mynster's income was much greater than that of Martensen. 

80 The party of Grundtvig held regularly a convention of ministers which they called 
"the Convent." S. K. and the Bishop agreed perfectly in their dislike of this party and 
its Convent, in which Peter Kierkegaard had a prominent place. 


Note that in this diatribe the key words are to be found on almost every page, 
because the weakest points are incessantly attacked, and therefore it is not neces- 
sary — indeed it would be hardly possible — to include in the index such words as 
New Testament, God's Word, Christianity, Christendom, and priest, except to 
indicate passages where one or another of them is the principal theme. For a 
similar reason I have not tried to indicate the many passages where Christianity 
is represented as essentially suffering. 

Absolute, the, 78 

Actors — priests, 289 

Admission, the, 32, 54 

All are Christians, 105, i57f., 228 

All are priests, 181 

Apostasy, 33, 46 

Apostles, too hasty, 160 

Assumption, a silly, 5iff. 

Auditing, 238 

Augurs, 182 

Baptism, 205f. 
Bible Society, 126 
Biblical interpretation, 197 
Blessedness, what price, 51 
Blood-witnesses, 10 
Boesen, Pastor, 90 

Cannibals, priests are, 268f. 

Career, 19, 83 

Carstensen, 222 

Catastrophic, 62, 274 

Catholic Church, 34 

Catholicism, xvi 

Certain degree, 81 f. 

Christian nation, 30ft. 

Christian protocol, 7 

Christian states, 147, 189 

Christian world, 147 

Christianity does not exist, 29ff., 127, 

167, 182, 191, 277 
Christ's promises, iQiff. 
Church, 34 
Clergy, 47ft. 

Clergyman, the modern, 258 
Clerical order, 175 
Comfortable, the, 99f. 
Comical, 68 
Confirmation, 2i7f. 
Contemporaneousness, 239!?. 
Convent beer, 293 

Corrective, the, 90 
Counsels of perfection, xvi 
Counterfeiters, 151 
Court Preacher, 276 
Crime of Christendom, 279f. 
Criminal case, 31, 33, 151 

Dean Bloch, 44ft. 
Decisive, 63, 242 
Definite, something, ii 
Denmark, 34 
Detective talent, 33, 118 
Disciple, 130 
Diversity of gifts, 22 
Divine Justice, 252f. 
Docents, 242 
Dogmatic treatise, 40 

Echo answers, 278f. 

Edifying Discourses, xii 

Education of children, 223ff. 

Either/or, 8if. 

Emetic, 87f. 

Endeavor, an, xiii, 3of., 33, 38, 70, 83 

Equivocal place, 169 

Error, to be in, 188 

Established Church, i8f., 22, 39, 54, 

62, 71 
Eternal, 99f. 
Eternity to repent, 246f. 
Eulogy upon man, iosf. 

Faith alone, xvii 

Family, with, 42, 83f., 134, 141, 215, 

Father, my deceased, 13 
Fear, 188 

Fear and Trembling, 242 
Fire alarm, stop it, 4 iff. 
Fire Chief, I93f. 
First God's kingdom, 2o8ff. 



Fishers of men, 203 

"Follow me," 27, 203 

Followers, 34, 123 

Fooling GcTd, 20, 26I, 59, 85, 169, 210, 

Formula of Christendom, 2i2ff. 
Fortress, the Church a, 138 
Frederick and Juliana, I45f. 
Frivolous, be, 265L 
Full music, buried with, 9 

Garrison, complete, 29ff. 

Genius, iS9ff., 182 

God easy to hoax, 255L 

God is love, 245 

God's cause, 36 

God/the world, 197 

Government, 63 

Government commission, 43ff. 

Grace, xvii 

Grundtvig, 9, 184 

Guarantees, 172 

Heartiness — heartlessness, 290 
Honesty, 37ff. 
Honors, 277 
Hospital, infected, 139 
Hound, obedient, viii 

Ibsen, xii 

Ideals, must be proclaimed, 2621. 

Illusion, 139, 184, 275! 

Imitation of Christ, 130, 264 

Indifferentism, 185 

Instant, the, xiff., 4of., 79f., 91, 28of. 

Interesting, 172, 231 

"Interest" in my cause, 231 

Introducing Christianity, 97 

Inventory, complete, 30 

Judas, 36 

Judge for Yourself, xiii 
Judgment, Christ's, ii7ff. 
Juliana, 1451. 

Kierkegaardian literature, 10 

Last words, S.K.'s, xiv 
Leniency, 37fi\, 94 
Lives only once, 244ff. 
Livings, 19, 43, 48, 85, 135 
Long robes, 27, 123, i74ff. 

Lord's Supper, 207 
Ludvig From, 2o8ff. 
Luther, 2, 32 

Many Christians, I47f. 

Martensen, 5-24, 43, 48, 62, 67-72, 

87L, n8f., 259, 2751- 
Martensen's silence, 67-72 
Measure of distance, 183 
Medical diagnosis, I39ff. 
Midnight cry, 58, 62ff. 
Moral, the, xvi, 54ff. 
Mynster, 5-25, 54, 62, 118, 183, 187, 

25of., 275f., 285, 293 

National Church, 63, 84, 202 
New Testament, a difficulty, io8f. 
New Testament, no guide, in, 126 
Nielsen, Prof., 69, 71 
Number, power of, 30 
Numerical, the, 127 
Nuts, empty, 156 

Oath of priests, 26, 32, 91, I28ff., 144, 

170, 215 
Obedient hound, viii 
Offense, 189 
Official Christianity, 4of., 47ff., 5of., 

99, H7ff., 122, isoff., 277 
Old couple, 246L 
Optical illusion, no 
Orthodoxy, 108 

Paganism — Christianity, 290 

Paludan-Moller, isflf. 

Parents, 223 

Passion, religious, 185 

Pastoral Letter, 153 

Paterfamilias, 205f. 

Patronizing God, 43, 102, 140 

Pattern, the, ii7f., i6of., 168 

Paul had no job, 181 

Paying the priests, 200 

Peace, iyi. 

Pecuniarily interested, 83f., 134 

Perfecting Christianity, 28, 33, 36, 

161, 181 
Perjured men, n8f., 216, 222f., 227, 

Personal/official, 153, 170 
Phenomenon, 69 
Picture from life, 25of. 

Plain man, 59, 701., 287 ff. 

Plato, 79 

Playing Christianity, 8, 80, 121, 140, 

157, 180, 191 
Poet, 301., 117, 136, 201 
Police, 19, 64, 140, 144, 184, 202, 228 
Political journal, 49 
Postscript, 40, 52, 55 
Preaching, 51., 17, 20 
Preaching in street, 2 
Priest a screen, 289 
Priests, xviii, 268-272, 212-230 
Private practice, 134 
Promotion, 19, 42, 83, 121, 270 
Proof and disproof, 271! 
Propagation of the race, 165, 214 
Protestantism, xvi, 34 
Public, the, 260 
Punishment, cruel, 44ff. 

Reader, my, 95 

Rebellion against Christianity, 39 

Reformer, 33 

Remembered eternally, 248 

Repentance, preacher of, 17 

Requirement, the Christian, 38L, 54, 

Royal authorization, 46, 83, 142 
Royal functionaries, 130, 132, i4of. 

Sacrifice, 34, 59, 65 
Salt, 33f- 

Same time, nf., 17, 20 
Satire, xiv 
Scandal, 22 

Scribes and Pharisees, 120 
Seducing youth, 128 
Self-Examination, 14 
Severity, 37ff., 94 
Shocking, 142 
Shopkeeper, 48 
Sickness unto Death, 40 

INDEX 303 

Silence, significant, 47ff., 67ff., 135 

Single state, 213, 219ft. 

Situation, the religious, 29ft. 

Socrates, 283 

"Sophists, 283 

S0ren, the name, 259 

Soul-selling, 152 

Spiritual man, 162 

Stage, as on the, 82 

State, the, 83f., 97, 99L, i02f., 107, 

I27ff., 144 
State Church, 63, 84, 135, 182, 184, 202 
Stephen, Protomartyr, 24 
Stilling, Dr., 69 
Successor, 11, 292 
Suffered, what I have, 28sff. 
Sunday/Monday, 13 
System, the, 69 

Take notice, 25, 49, 60, 86 

Task, my, 97, isoff., i83f., 282ff. 

Temperance society, 112 

Theater/Church,- 197 

Theological candidate, 43, 2o8ff., 259 

Thesis, only one, 32 

Thousand officials, 83ff. 

Town Hall, 5of. 

Training in Christianity, xiii, 14, 40, 

54ff., 239, 241, 243 
Trivial remarks, 197 

Unmarried, 188 

Way, the, 21 

Wedding, 163, 2i7ff. 

Witnesses, 5-26, 33, 43, 48f., 67, 85, 

109, 118, 188, 209, 242, 264 
Works, S.K.'s, 52 
Works of Love, xviii 
Writer, a, 79 

Zeuthen, Dr., 52ff. 

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